It’s Back to Work
The MLS is Back tournament story for the Black and Gold unfortunately came to an end last Friday, taking a 1 (5) - (4) 1 loss in penalty kicks in the Quarterfinals to Orlando City Soccer Club just three days after trouncing the defending MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders in the Round of 16. In the latest edition of Mark-Anthony Kaye’s weekly segment on ESPN LA 710, The Mak Show, the midfielder reflects back on his experience in the bubble, looks ahead to the MLS season restart and more.
Home at Last
Home after almost a month in the MLS is Back tournament “bubble” in Orlando, Fl, the hosts naturally began the conversation asking Mark-Anthony, “What does it feel like to be out of the bubble? What is it like to have gone in, come out, and live to tell the tale?”
“It’s life-changing man. The bubble, honestly there’s no way you can prepare for it whatsoever. But coming back to normal life, coming back to LA, you just realize how much better your situation is here than it was there. It’s still taken awhile to adapt to normal life again because we’re so used to being in a routine and, for the last couple of days I felt lazy, didn’t really know what to do with myself but, I’m definitely glad that we’re home. It’s obviously unfortunate that we didn’t come home with a trophy, but it’s always nice to be back home.
The hosts pressed further, curious to know what the hardest part of the bubble was, mentally.
“I think the hardest part is knowing that you don’t have control, you know what I mean? That you’re put in an area where you have to follow one thousand rules in order to have the opportunity to play something you love. You know, I think that was definitely a tough part on me and a lot of the players. Like I had said to you guys earlier, the only fun part was really training, you know? And that’s for an hour out of the day. So for the rest of the day you’re not doing anything. Like, I don’t think it’s good for anyone to be in a hotel that long. So, that part was definitely tough. Especially mentally just because you just feel like it’s not normal, you’ve never practiced it before. But who knows, maybe in ten years it’s something we have to do every year, you’ll get used to it. But, yeah, it was definitely a weird experience.
Lessons From the Bubble
The bubble inevitably thrust players out of their comfort zone, requiring them to dig deep and find ways to both prepare and perform under a certain state of duress. The hosts were curious to hear what Kaye was able to take from this that may help him moving forward.
“Yeah, I definitely think mental resilience is the common theme when you go into things like this. And if you can grow from something like this it will definitely help you and make certain situations in the future much more easier for you to handle. So, tournament style is definitely a difficult thing, not a lot of players have to do it in their career. But you know, I’ve been fortunate where I’ve been in Gold Cups, but they’ve never been like this, you know? So, even in the next two World Cups that come I don’t think the experience will be exactly like this, but, I think if you can get stronger mentally through tough times it will help you in the future no matter what. So it’s definitely the mental resilience that’s there.”
The tournament and bubble are now done for the boys in Black & Gold, but it only represented a fraction of the greater MLS season, and the hosts quickly shifted to asking about what’s next for the Club.
“We’re back training now, and I think MLS has a tentative schedule that should be released very soon about playing games in two phases. It’ll be in-market, you know, we’ll stay on the west coast, I think we’ll play about six games in twenty-two days, that’s the first phase. Then the second phase is a similar thing so the League is going to keep going, you know. We have games to play for, and there will be an MLS Cup Champion at the end of the year. So, it’s back to work for us. Obviously the tournament didn’t go as planned but, you know now we’re back into the regular season and we’ve just got to keep pushing forward and just pick up three points as often as we can.
For more, check out the full audio above. Make sure to tune in to the MAK Show every Friday on ESPN LA 710 and the ESPN app, you won’t want to miss it.