"Normal" means different things to different people in a world without soccer, but for many of us, seeing players back on the pitch is close enough.
This week, Phoenix Rising began a return to "normal" with training sessions at Casino Arizona Field; the first time the team has come together to train in over two months.
Following USL guidelines, the players worked only in groups of four, staying six feet apart from each other. One coach could watch but couldn't come within 15 feet.
Everyone on the technical staff must have their temperature taken before coming into the facility and the club's medical staff monitors players via daily communication about their health.
It may seem like a long time before teams can go from small-group training to full matches (and that's not even counting full matches with full stadiums) but it also felt like it would take forever for players to get back on the pitch. Yet here we are. Slowly, but surely, returning to "normal."
—The biggest news of the week for Phoenix Rising may not even be the return to training. On Tuesday, the club announced it is a founding member of MLS's elite player development platform.
Per MLS' release: "The new platform, which will include more than 8,000 players throughout the U.S. and Canada, will consist of elite year-round competition, as well as player identification initiatives, coaching education opportunities, and additional programming to create the premier player development environment."
Phoenix Rising's Director of Soccer Development Steve Cooke talked about why this is an important step for the organization.
— Players back on the pitch means plenty of pictures! Check out our full photo gallery from team photographer Grace Stufkosky
— Off the pitch, Phoenix Rising players donated surgical masks to Tempe Fire Medical Rescue during the week.
— Midfielder Jordan Schweitzer talked about how thankful he was to be back on the pitch. And, speaking of Jordan, on Sunday, Jordan spoke with his mother for Mother's Day to talk about the most meaningful moments of his career. He also spent time talking about his stepmom. Have your tissues ready!
— Defender Kyle Bjornethun was this past week's Trivia Tuesday subject.
— On Sunday, May 10th, it was the one-year anniversary of the beginning of our 20-match winning streak. To celebrate the occasion, we're reliving those 20 wins in 20 days on our Instagram account. You can follow the 20 in 20 delivered by Carvana by clicking here.
— We celebrated two other anniversaries this week. May 12th was the two-year anniversary of Didier Drogba's moon shot in Tulsa. May 13th was the three-year anniversary of Shawn Wright-Phillip's game-winning blast against OKC Energy at the death.
— As the first Valley professional team to returning to any kind of training, Phoenix Rising received a lot of attention this week on TV.
— The club was also featured on the radio. KJZZ's Phil Latzman reported on the club's return to training. And at the end of the week, head coach Rick Schantz called into the Doug and Wolf Show to talk about how hopeful he is for the club returning to the pitch.