In case you missed it, The MAK show with Mark-Anthony Kaye, a new weekly segment on Mornings with Keyshawn, LZ and Travis on ESPN LA 710 and the ESPN app debuted this week, where we learned about the beginnings of “life in the bubble”, and according to Mark-Anthony, despite recent “Fyre Fest” comparisons, “it’s more than doable”.
Check out below for more highlights from the first MAK show, and make sure and tune-in to ESPN LA 710 AM or the ESPN App live on Fridays at 8:15 a.m. PT.
Life Inside the Bubble
Of course, everyone wants to know what life is like in “the bubble”, the hyper secure ecosystem at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando that players and team personnel are living within throughout the MLS is Back tournament. Question one, of course, the food.
“Ah man you know its hotel food,” Kaye said. “I mean I think that it’s been a shock to so many players because we’re so used to going on away trips for two days and you know, you can handle the food and then you get back to your home cooking; but I think now they’re realizing that we’re going to have to eat this for thirty odd days…but it’s hotel food, you know we’re not used to it but it’s more than doable.”
ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson wasn’t satisfied. “So, when you’re swallowing do have to hold your nose and drink water right after?”
MAK responded with a hearty laugh.
More than the food, the players are having to acclimate themselves to a whole new living environment for almost six weeks, and the question on everyone’s mind is how are players getting settled. Is it fun? Is there anything at all interesting? Or has it been an inconvenience that has to happen to get these games played?
“Obviously, I think if everyone could have had a different way to get these games done they would’ve voted for it if there was an option but there wasn’t,” Kaye said. “Now, we need to make the best of it. But, it’s not like a normal hotel where you see a lot of people in the lobby. Most of the guys just stay in their rooms, stay on their floor. You kind of have everything you need in your room except when you have to go for a meal. You have to wear a mask everywhere except for in your room, so most people are staying in their room.”
Kaye is still trying to get settled in and figure out how to spend all of his free time in the “bubble.”
“I’ve been trying to do yoga, I do it with my girlfriend,” Kaye said. “We are also getting on FaceTime and do a little Peloton session, just to have some engagement with her. Then just go through my day and try to stay mentally engaged somehow, you know read a book….I think everyone is trying to adapt and the biggest thing is, just like when this whole quarantine thing started is - you need to find a routine. I think that’s what will make it easier to help you not feel like you’re stranded in a hotel the whole time.”
On Black Lives Matter
Earlier this year, Kaye wrote an article for LAFC.com about Black Lives Matter and the fight for social justice, and the hosts soon shifted into asking about the BLM movement in MLS and how he continues to be involved.
“We have some [BLM] t-shirts that they’ve given us for warmups and pregame walkouts,” Kaye said. “We also have an opportunity to write names on the back of our jerseys which I think is pretty cool, to give some spotlight on issues that still need more attention and are still waiting for some lawful decisions to go their way. The Club is doing the best they can do to make sure we raise awareness”.
On Playing Without Carlos
One of the big questions swirling around LAFC is how the Club will fare without its star, reigning MVP Carlos Vela, who elected to sit out of the MLS is Back tournament to care for his pregnant wife and three year-old son. However, Mark-Anthony isn’t worried.
“Yeah, it’s going to have to come from a lot of players. We have a lot of talented players and maybe in light of Carlos missing they will step up and start to produce for us,” Kaye said. “You look at a player like Brian [Rodriguez] who us very electric and you know can take the guys on defense by shock sometimes. So, I think that getting him in a good from and good confidence leading into the first game will help us a lot. We have a player like Diego [Rossi], everyone knows what Diego is capable of doing. I think it’s just a responsibility that falls on all of us to step up. Carlos is a big player on our team, but you know we are a very good team and we have good players without him too, so it’s just an opportunity to prove that.”
On Playing Without Fans
Keyshawn Johnson knows a thing about the energy you get from thousands of fans cheering you on, and he asked Mark-Anthony how he thinks playing without them will be.
“It’s going to be a tough one without fans, but I think the onus will drop down to all the players,” Kaye said. The 11 guys who will be on the field at once who will have to really motivate each other and keep everyone focused and concentrated. Obviously, the guys off the bench are going to have to figure out a way to stay engaged too, so that when they come into the game they can help us. It’s going to be different for sure there’s no way of replicating fans without having fans there whether there’s a jumbotron and you see people on Zoom, it’s not the same. I think the biggest part is just being together as a group and just understanding that you have to depend on your teammates to lift you up sometimes.”