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As some MLS teams return to limited training, Sounders patiently wait

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Stefan Frei urges caution over rushing back.

Kayla Mehring/Sounder at Heart

In various parts of the country, MLS players are slowly returning to their training facilities. Wednesday marked the first day that MLS allowed players to use team facilities. Most are wearing masks and they’re all limited to individual drills, but it was the first step of what will likely be a long path back to normalcy.

The Seattle Sounders, however, were not among the teams to welcome players back to Starfire Soccer Complex. Washington, like many states, remains in a stay-at-home order that does not yet permit this kind of activity.

As eager as Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei is to get back to playing, he still seems just fine with waiting.

“It’s not just what the league allows us to do, but it’s also what we’re allowed to do on a state, county and even city level,” Frei told reporters on Monday. “I want us all to stay together because we’ve done so well as a state. I’m really proud of my fellow Washingtonians. We’re not going to suddenly splinter off and follow MLS protocol. There are some things as an organization that would allow us to follow MLS protocol but we want to make sure our state knows what it is and signs off on it, and we’re still being good citizens.”

Whether or not the Sounders return to training this week, next week or a month from now when Washington should have more relaxed workplace rules, Frei appreciates that there will still be some risk. How the league helps teams mitigate that risk will likely determine how safe players feel.

“Am i worried about it? I trust the people that make these calls,” Frei said. “I have to trust that they not only have my best interests in mind and my health, but the whole situation. If MLS is eager for us to come back they also have to realize that if something bad happens because they call us back too early that it would be catastrophic.

“It’s not just about my own safety, it’s about making the right call. I do trust everyone who has to make those decision. I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions. It’s a fine line — safety, revenue are kind of conflicting at this point. But these are difficult calls to make and I’m happy the way we’ve handled it so far, and because of that I’m confident in the people making the calls.”