Toronto FC trains at BMO Field for first time since global pandemic lockdown
Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley takes part in team training at BMO Field in Toronto on Friday June 26, 2020. Toronto FC was about to train at BMO Field on March 12 when the session, and then the season, was suddenly halted. On Friday evening, 106 days, later they returned for a first practice at their home stadium since the global pandemic ground Major League Soccer to a halt. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Toronto FC
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, June 27, 2020 8:50PM EDT
Toronto FC was about to train at BMO Field on March 12 when the session, and then the season, was suddenly halted.
On Friday evening, 106 days, later they returned for a first practice at their home stadium since the global pandemic ground Major League Soccer to a halt.
“And we back,” 20-year-old defender Rocco Romeo tweeted Saturday.
“Hello BMO Field,” added midfielder/forward Tsubasa Endoh.
“Good to be back on the field,” said defender Chris Mavinga.
“Getting close,” wrote midfielder Jonathan Osorio.
Toronto is preparing for the MLS is Back Tournament, which runs July 8 to Aug. 11 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.
A club spokesman said the team had opted to train at BMO Field rather than its north Toronto training facility to get in an evening workout in a stadium setting ahead of the World Cup-style tournament
Toronto returns to action July 10 against D.C. United in a game that kicks off at 8 p.m. ET. Two of its three group games are evening starts.
Toronto, drawn in a group with D.C. United, Montreal Impact and New England Revolution, is scheduled to charter to Florida next Friday.
Knocking a ball about at an empty BMO Field could be a precursor for later in the season, if teams resume play in their home markets.
The club released a short video and some photos on Saturday afternoon showing the BMO Field session. Under MLS rules governing the return to training during the pandemic COVID-19 era, practices are closed to the media.
MLS has been off since play was suspended two weeks into the season. Toronto tied its season opener 2-2 at San Jose on Feb. 29 before defeating visiting New York City FC 1-0 on March 7.
Following league and local government protocols, TFC returned to training gradually - starting with voluntary individual sessions on May 11, small group sessions on June 1 and full team training on June 15.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2020.