LAFC defender Jordan Harvey is writing an occasional diary for the Los Angeles Times during his team’s time in quarantine at the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla. This is the first installment.
Saying goodbye to my family Monday was the toughest part. I cried like a baby. I felt like I was 15 again and saying goodbye to my parents and siblings at the gate as I left for the U-17 U.S. National Team residency program in Sarasota, Fla. Now I’ll be leaving my wife to juggle two girls — one who is 4, the other only 5-months old — for five weeks in the middle of a pandemic.
I’m not complaining; I understand that I’m very fortunate to play soccer for a living and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But at the same time I ask myself, “Is this what I signed up for?”
I would be remiss not to mention the amazing send off from the 3252 [supporter group] and our LAFC fans. The support they shared as we left the Performance Center on our way to the airport was exactly what we needed: to shift focus from all the uncertainty, back on to why we are all doing this. Our fans embody the love, passion, and support that has been this club from the very beginning.
The anxiety grew on the charter flight as we learned that Nashville had a second wave of players test positive for COVID-19. By then FC Dallas, who had 10 players test positive, had already been withdrawn from the tournament — Nashville joined them on Thursday — so guys on our team were worried before we even got to Orlando.
It gives me anxiety thinking about all these guys being stuck in their rooms with the potential of not only being sent home having worked so hard, but potentially contracting COVID-19 while being here in this bubble and not with family.
You feel for the teams that won’t be able to play here but you also say, “this can’t happen to us.” You don’t want to be the next Dallas or Nashville. Your safety is at risk. Just the thought of “one failed test and you’re quarantined and your team is quarantined” keeps you focused on doing things the right way.
Back to thoughts about my family because that is how this whole mental side of things works. Family to soccer news and then back to family. My wife and I have done long distance before, so we’re good. But my 4-year old, she’s at an age where she understands enough to have [big] emotions about Daddy leaving, but she isn’t old enough to understand why Daddy’s leaving. It all turns into frustration and unmanageable behavior.
I’ve been tested three times since arriving in Florida, the most recent one coming Thursday. Luckily all our tests have so far been negative, but I still think it will be a few more days before anyone relaxes. I’m proud of our guys for sticking together and using caution, especially in the last week. It is crucial that we keep the train moving forward and build on the momentum that started a couple months ago at the start of the season. We’ve all been careful in L.A., and as of now it has paid off. I still think it will take a few more days until everyone’s guard comes down and the anxiety lessens.
We’ve tried to stay on West Coast time so we had two of our first three training sessions at 7 p.m. EDT. I personally like training in the morning but for these evening sessions the weather has cooled off and the thunderstorms have passed, so it’s worked out. Plus our first three games are all at night so we might as well get used to it.
Greetings between teams are awkward to say the least, as no one wants to be in close proximity with players/staff outside of their close-knit group. Conversations for now are in passing and because of masks, no one even recognizes each other until they’ve already walked by. Questions are still being asked and anxiety levels are still high. But games are being finally played for the first time since March and with each passing day comes more confidence that the bubble is stable and the tournament will move forward.