Golf. Soccer tennis. Around-the-clock video gaming. Such is “bubble” life for Real Salt Lake in Orlando, Florida.
All 26 Major League Soccer teams have arrived to the sprawling ESPN sports complex where the MLS is Back Tournament is being held. Games started Wednesday, and RSL plays its first game Sunday against the Colorado Rapids.
But after arriving to Florida on Saturday, the team has had to keep itself busy in between training sessions and team meetings. Players have been doing just that with the various activities available to them either at their hotel — RSL has the seventh floor — or in the surrounding area.
And, it actually hasn’t been that bad.
“So far, I have to say it’s been better than what we thought,” midfielder Albert Rusnák said.
Several players documented their off day Thursday on social media, including defender Marcelo Silva, who went golfing with forwards Giuseppe Rossi and Douglas Martinez, and midfielder Pablo Ruiz. Defender Justen Glad played 18 holes with a different group, and admitted he did not play well.
“I sat out the last, like, four [holes] just because it was that bad,” Glad said. “I ran out of balls.”
In addition to golfing, coach Freddy Juarez said the players played volleyball and spent time in the pool. Other popular activities in the “bubble” have been playing cards and ping pong.
And, there’s been plenty of gaming.
“The consoles like X-Box and Playstation, I think they’re turned on 24/7 here,” Rusnák said.
Glad, along with Aaron Herrera and Tate Schmitt, are known for frequently playing “Fortnite” together, which they are doing in the “bubble.” But gaming might be reserved for players who aren’t as long in the tooth.
“I’m 100% sure that the young guys have more screen time than the older guys do,” Glad said.
When it comes to food, the team gets three meals a day. It’s buffet style, so when it’s time to eat, players go to a specific place and get served what they want. They are not allowed to serve their own food, and a glass partition separates from the servers.
Glad said there has been team meals at two different restaurants so far — a seafood joint one and a steakhouse. He added that it’s only the team eating there, and that the employees all wear masks and have little if any contact with players or staff. Those restaurants, and others, are all inside the ESPN complex.
Coach Freddy Juarez said the team is planning an activity for Saturday so he and the rest of the coaching staff can participate. He wasn’t out with the players for their off day.
“I stayed in and did some work on Colorado, and the staff [did] as well,” Juarez said.
RSL had no complaints about life in the “bubble.” Juarez said it was “well-organized.” For Glad, it’s a small price to pay for resuming the season.
“It’s tough being away from family and friends,” Glad said. “But to get soccer back, it’s not too bad.”
MLS IS BACK
At the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Fla.
RSL vs. COLORADO RAPIDS
When • Sunday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPN