Since arriving in Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament, Chicago Fire FC has had a lot of free time.
That's what happens when your first scheduled match gets cancelled because of a number of Nashville SC players, who were set to be Chicago's opening opponent in Florida, testing positive for COVID-19.
But Fire forward Fabian Herbers looks on the bright side. Between training sessions, he and his teammates have spent some quality time together as they're locked down at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World Resort.
"We have our own floor in the hotel, so we have our players lounge where we can play some ping pong, play some cards, play some FIFA and stuff," Herbers said.
Of course, the Fire would rather be on the pitch playing in the tournament, and luckily, they'll soon get that chance even though it'll come after a long wait. With two teams dropping out of the event (FC Dallas had multiple positive COVID-19 tests as well), MLS reconfigured the groups teams will play in, and the Fire have been moved from Goup A to Group B. Now, their first match will come Tuesday morning against Seattle.
"I’m super excited to finally play competitive soccer again," said Herbers. "Can’t wait to get started."
Coincidentally, the Fire have already played the Sounders this season. In the spring, Raphael Wicky's team faced the defending MLS champs on the road in one of the two matches they played before the season was paused because of the pandemic.
"We've already played them -- some of the analysis we've done in February, we probably can use them, but as well again ... how much from March is still the same now in these teams?" said Wicky. "They also have a three months break. Some of the players who were there in March may not play now, and maybe now some who were not there in March may play now," Wicky added.
While the Fire head coach isn't convinced his team will have any sort of advantage because it's already faced the Sounders, Herbers feels differently.
"We know what they’re up to, we still have a little bit of revenge against them because we lost against them in the first game of the season, so we want to make up for it and get the three points," Herbers said.
After Tuesday's match against Seattle, the Fire will continue group play against San Jose on Sunday, July 19th, and then wrap-up group play by facing Vancouver on Thursday, July 23rd. They're hopeful they'll play well enough to advance into the knockout round and have a chance to win the tournament.
"Everybody wants to win, and finally show our fans what we’re made of and win some games," Herbers said.