FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution have yet to win a competitive game in Orlando. But striker Adam Buksa has reason for optimism when the team resumes the MLS season at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex next week.
And not just because Buksa was successful in the Disney Cup International Youth Tournament — as a 12-year-old.
“I had plenty of fun,” Buksa recalled before the Revolution departed their training center behind Gillette Stadium Thursday morning. “I was with my club, Wisla Krakow, and we won the tournament [U13 division].
“It was a fantastic adventure. But it was 11 years ago, so I think things might have changed.”
The Revolution, who are 0-3-4 at Orlando City SC in regular-season and US Open Cup matches since 2015, will open play in the MLS is Back Tournament against the Montreal Impact at 8 p.m. next Thursday. All 26 MLS teams will be lodged at the Swan & Dolphin Hotel, with strict coronavirus protocols in effect.
“It’s going to be very hot, very humid,” said Buksa, 23. “Conditions will be the same for every team, so it’s not going to be easier or harder for any team. It might influence a little bit the tempo of the game, but I think we will be fine. We just need to play smart. As I said before, we are ready for the tournament.
“Hopefully, we will stay there over a month, until Aug. 11. If we stay together as a team, we won’t feel bad about it. So, obviously, it’s inconvenient, but we just have to get used to it and we will deal with it.”
Outside of games and practice, teams will be confined to the hotel, with intermingling discouraged. Teams began arriving last week. At least six FC Dallas players tested positive for coronavirus, and that team has been isolated.
“I don’t think there’s worries; it hasn’t jumped to another team, as far as I know, at the moment,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said. “And they’ve been separated since they’ve been there.
“You’re not really able to mix or do anything with any other team until you’re sure your team’s been cleared and tested. So we don’t have that same concern in terms of that impacting us.
“I don’t know exactly what happened there, but it seems [the Dallas players] got it before they arrived because they started testing positive as soon as they arrived.
“For us, we’ve been pretty confident in what we’re doing up here. I can tell you our guys, our coaches, staff, are taking it very seriously.”
The Revolution started the season 0-1-1 before MLS suspended activities March 12. Bilello said the Revolution have had one player test positive since resuming training June 8.
“The player did test positive and he was removed from training right away,” Bilello said. “The team underwent another round of testing and then we [stopped] training until we made sure we got all those test results back, that no one else was sick.
“Again, even when you had the case of having a positive test, the steps that you take — there were two more rounds of tests taken before the team was able to leave for Florida to make sure all those were coming back negative.”
The Revolution had a charter flight to Orlando.
“You can see we’re taking two buses so we can spread the players and the staff out even more,” Bilello said. “The league is doing all the charters and managing all that. It will be a bigger plane than normal, so the players can spread out. Players are taking box lunches with them.
“When they arrive in Florida, they’ll be tested again. They’ll be in isolation until all those tests come back to make sure all those tests are negative. And then once that’s done, they’ll be on the regular protocol down there, regular testing and training.
“But again, it’s the same sort of situation that when they’re on the field, they don’t have to wear their masks, but when they’re off the field, they will have to wear masks. Protocol is not very different than what we have here: regular testing to make sure if something happens you catch it, and practicing real safe practices when you’re off the field.”
The Revolution will meet D.C. United July 16 and Toronto FC July 21. The top 16 teams will continue in a single-elimination tournament through Aug. 11.
The atmosphere might remind Buksa of his youth days, with no spectators in the stands.
“Obviously, sports is all about fans,” Buksa said. “Without fans, sports doesn’t really make sense. But that’s the situation right now. We need to accept it. It’s temporary.
“It’s definitely not going to be easy. It’s going to be a little bit different, but it’s definitely better to be on the field even without fans right now. Hopefully things will come back to a normal situation.”
Group games will count in the overall MLS standings. The winner of the elimination stage will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I think these are important games,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “The teams are going to play real hard. Despite the fact that fans aren’t going to be there, I think it’s going to be very important.
“Real athletes don’t hear the crowd when they’re playing. They’re so focused. Same with coaches.
“Obviously crowds are important and all, but if the focus and concentration are right, the crowd’s immaterial. And having said that, I think a lot of people would tell me I’m crazy for saying that, and I understand that.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.