BOSTON (CBS) — After waiting patiently for nearly three months, the New England Revolution and the rest of MLS finally have a return date on the calendar. The Revs are pretty pumped about it, too.
Major League Soccer announced plans for its return Wednesday, by way of a 26-team tournament at Disney World Resorts in Orlando. With the tourney set for July 8, teams now have less than a month to get ready for action.READ MORE: Six Flags New England Reopens This Weekend
Revs players hit the practice field in Foxboro earlier this week, one of the first teams in the league to do so. After a lengthy layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic, they’re all eager to get back on the pitch for some competitive play.
“With all the uncertainty that has been around the world the last three months, it’s definitely nice to have a date to look forward to,” said midfielder Scott Caldwell. “Something we as a team can work towards. We’ll be working together to be as fit and ready as possible come tournament time.”
“It definitely puts some urgency in training and preparation. You know this date is on the clock and you’re ready to compete those days,” added defender Brandon Bye. “Once we get down there, it will be as usual. everyone will be ready to play and compete again. it has been a long break so we’re all excited to get back.”
“Having that date in mind and being able to look to the future, to see a clear pathway to what you’re working for and your end goal, that’s so important,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner. “We were pretty much gone for three months where we didn’t know what was going to happen.”READ MORE: I-Team: Boston Police Officers Taken Off Patrol To Guard Marty Walsh's House
Teams will make their way to Orlando starting on June 24, with group play of the tournament kicking off July 8. The tournament will offer a new set of challenges, but the Revs feel they have a big advantage on the sideline in head coach Bruce Arena.
Arena led the US National Team from 1998-2006, leading to team to 75 victories and an appearance in the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002.
“It should be interesting, unlike anything I’ve been a part of being. But Bruce coached the national team and has experience in those types of tournaments, those types of situations — he’ll know what it takes to get out of the group stage and into the knockout rounds,” said Turner.
“Believe me, this isn’t a World Cup,” said Arena. “It’s entirely different with the pandemic and the conditions the teams are playing under. But we understand that it’s group play, we’ll have three games, and hopefully we play well enough to advance into the group of 16.”
“We just want to go out there and make our fans proud. We’re going to work our hardest and I know everyone is excited about the tournament,” added Turner. “We’re going to go out and try to win this thing — why else do we play this game but to go out and win? We want to give our fans something to cheer for.”MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
New England was 0-1-1 on the season when play was halted.