Lodeiro Orlando
Danny Ciaccio

Blurbs from the Bubble: A running timeline from the MLS is Back Tournament, Week 1

Hello from the bubble! Thanks for stopping by and checking out our daily journal from Orlando, which is presented by WaFd Bank—the Exclusive Bank of Sounders FC.

My name is Danny, and I am the Manager of Social Media for the Sounders. I’ve been with the team in some capacity since 2013, when I began a small gameday role with our PR Department and have climbed the ol’ corporate ladder from there. I’m also the only staffer from our content team who will be in the bubble for the MLS is Back Tournament, and I will do my best to update everyone on the behind-the-scenes action of what this journey has in store.

Just as I did in preseason, I’ll be providing a daily journal with updates from the team side. You can also follow me on Twitter HERE.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Go Sounders!

July 11, 2020

9:16 p.m. ET - Yesterday went pretty late by the time we got back to the hotel, showered and had team meal, so it was nice to have an easy start to the day (a.k.a. I woke up at 11:40....). The guys had a gym session this afternoon followed by more testing. Also: I can't believe It has taken me this long to write something about the geckos. There are geckos EVERYWHERE. Pretty cute and harmless, as far as Florida creatures go. After dinner, the guys went back to the floor to hangout and rest. With another kickoff coming on Tuesday morning, recovery time is crucial for this quick turnaround. Currently, Raúl Ruidiaz, Kelvin Leerdam, Gustav Svensson, Jordy Delem, Shane O'Neill and Miguel Ibarra are throwing it down on the poker table in the lounge.  

July 10, 2020

11:31 p.m. ET - We came here to play soccer and today it finally happened. After a long day of anticipation, we kicked off at 9 p.m. ET for our first match of the tournament. With a lightning storm in the background for the entire 90 minutes, the game's pace was fast for the opening half hour before the humidity and heat began to take its toll. Both sides had their chances, but we played San Jose to a 0-0 draw with Stefan Frei earning our Budweiser Man of the Match honors. Some additional info: the players and coaches walked off the bus in BLM shirts, the starters participated in a 20-second kneel along with San Jose players and there was a pond behind the bench that's apparently full of snakes and gators.  

July 9, 2020

11:33 p.m. ET - It’s almost matchday! Today’s schedule was pretty similar to yesterday, although we tested in the morning and the team trained a bit earlier in the evening. We’ve been here for almost a week (it basically feels like one long day) and there is a sense of realism that the tournament is real and it has arrived. We also received our new schedule for the group stage, with the Chicago Fire joining Group B. The boys are ready for tomorrow, let’s get going!

July 8, 2020

11:58 p.m. ET - The schedule was shifted a bit today, with a later breakfast and a low-key afternoon. The club's Black players ventured over to the tournament's first match for a powerful demonstration prior to kickoff, and then joined the team for a training session under the lights. It was a bit of a lighter load on their bodies today, ending with another brief scrimmage. Joevin Jones had the play of the day, while the blossoming friendship of Xavier Arreaga and Will Bruin makes me smile.   

July 7, 2020

9:47 p.m. ET - Another training session this morning left the group wiped out from the sun, so tomorrow's evening practice under the lights will be a nice change of pace. The last portion of training featured a full 11-v-11 scrimmage, with my personal highlight coming on an impressive set of saves from Stefan Frei. The team went straight to the pool for some fun in the water, though the lightning quickly shooed them out of there. The rest of the day was pretty chill, with a gym session followed by dinner in the evening. The reality is, even though the resort features plenty of space in the lobbies, outdoor games by the pools and lounge rooms on each floor, the players tend to stay in their rooms during the downtime. Maybe they're enjoying the space, considering normal road travel features a set of teammates in each room. Also, here's a can't-miss Q&A with Jordan Morris from this afternoon. 

July 6, 2020

10:40 p.m. ET - That was a long day! After breakfast, the whole staff received our fifth test of the trip (the nasal swab is getting easier for me, no doubt) before going to the training ground for our first outdoor session. Under a sun that already felt pretty intense by mid-morning, this session focused on small, short-sided drills. Nico Lodeiro's work rate continues to be amazing, while these drills also benefit the skillset of shifty players like Handwalla Bwana, who had some nice plays. Of the younger guys, I've been impressed by the poise of recent Homegrown signing, Josh Atencio.

After training, the guys hopped in the pool, while Nico and Raúl played some beach volleyball. After an evening gym workout, the squad was rewarded with a dinner at the sushi restaurant located in the hotel. We'll look to have a similar schedule tomorrow, just without the testing and sushi.

July 5, 2020

10:13 p.m. ET - Still a bit tired from our all-day, late-arrival trip on Friday, we had a late breakfast this morning followed by another gym session. Our mid-afternoon pool outing was canceled by lightning in the area, although we didn't get nearly the storm as yesterday. It was fun to run into a couple former Sounders on the complex: Saad Abdu-Salaam and Román Torres, while Joevin Jones caught up with his brother, Alvin, who plays for RSL. 

One fun tidbit i've noticed this trip: Nico Lodeiro is serving as the primary translator for Yeimar Gómez Andrade. Typically this role would be Cristian Roldan, Miguel Ibarra or even Danny Leyva, but it's awesome to see Nico do a great job. Not bad for someone who moved here less than four years ago! Even though our post-dinner team walk was cut short by some evening rain, the squad is eager to get outside and train tomorrow. 


July 4, 2020

4:27 p.m. ET - Our first full day in the bubble! Since we tested late last night, our 12-hour quarantine lasted until late this morning, with breakfast delivered to each of our rooms. After another test (our fourth since Tuesday), I walked around campus a bit to get my bearings. Hand sanitizer stations and MLS signage with social distancing measures abound, in addition to a variety of lawn/yard games throughout the facility. Considering it's a Saturday and the Fourth of July, it's hard to fathom how empty the grounds are. This afternoon, the players participated in their first workout session since arriving last night. Currently, we're experiencing the trip's first big thunderstorm, at least to Seattle standards. 

July 3, 2020

12:05 p.m. PT - The final training session before Orlando is in the books. Today’s practice featured a full-field, 11-v-11 scrimmage, and there were definitely some impressive highlights. Xavier Arreaga scored off a corner kick, Jordan Morris had a breakaway banger with his left foot and Nico Lodeiro scored a chip from around half field. I was most impressed by the calm and collected possession out of the back, with Yeimar Gómez Andrade and Gustav Svensson showing so much composure. Gotta love the prolonged passing around that suddenly springs an open run from Morris or Raúl Ruidíaz.

In a players-driven initiative, the entire traveling staff wore Black Lives Matter t-shirts for the trip to Orlando. As we left Starfire Sports Complex for SeaTac, dozens upon dozens of Sounders fans sent off the team with flags, signs, flares and smoke. It was quite the scene and the players loved it! Thank you to ECS for coordinating. From there, we boarded our plane charted by Delta Airlines. Health and wellness has been the utmost priority, with wipes, hand sanitizers and masks handed out to each person.

11:58 p.m. ET - By the time we landed in Orlando, we were bussed to a testing site on the hotel campus (our third nasal swab test of the week), and then we finally moved into our rooms at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Time to settle in!