SANDY — Growing up, the tradition in Giuseppe Rossi’s household was always to eat lamb on Easter Sunday. Even while playing soccer in Europe over the past 16 years, it’s a tradition he did his best to maintain. It’s a tradition he couldn’t simply let die a couple weeks ago just because of the inconveniences of COVID-19.
Lamb is his favorite meal, and he was committed to having it.
Problem is, Rossi had never cooked lamb before. And by his own admission, Real Salt Lake’s new forward isn’t a very good cook anyway. Currently living alone in Utah though while his wife is back in his native New Jersey, he had no choice but to tackle the cooking himself this year.
So that’s exactly what he did, and it turned out spectacularly.
“I went to Whole Foods and said, ‘Give me all your lamb.’ Seven pieces of lamb loin. I made it and it came out beautiful. I was so happy, my mom was so proud — it was like a celebration,” said Rossi.
It was celebration he unfortunately had to enjoy all by himself, but it’s a circumstance he’s getting used to as the MLS suspension is in its sixth week.
“It’s tough, not only me for everybody. We all would like to know what tomorrow holds. We would always like to look forward to something, but we still don’t know what that could be, when it could be,” said Rossi.
Until that day comes, he’s stuck in his apartment all alone, connecting with family, friends and teammates whenever he can though texts and phone calls.
Like many people in the world these days, cooking, videos games, puzzles and Netflix are helping him pass the time.
Recently, he’s binge watched “Tiger King” and “Bad Blood” on Netflix, and even got sucked into watching “Too Hot to Handle” recently, which he said was “one of the dumbest shows.”
“A reality show I would never watch in my lifetime, but this quarantine is making you do crazy things,” joked Rossi.
The daily workouts provided by Real Salt Lake’s training staff are something he’s always looking forward to as they’ve helped distract him from COVID-19, which has hit pretty close to home. He has family in Italy and New Jersey — two of the areas in the world hit hardest by the pandemic — and he often worries about them. Rossi said fortunately all of his family members are safe, but he said it’s been sad to think about the tough circumstances those family members are living through at the moment.
“The workouts, they help so much. I want to work out for 10 hours straight cause your mind just goes to the workout and you’re not thinking about all the things around you,” said Rossi.
The pandemic is also preventing him from exploring all the things around him as well.
Rossi said he and his wife have made a list of all the cool places in Utah they’ve heard about that they want to explore, but at the moment, they can’t do any of them as they’re on opposite sides of the country.
He’s even researching vacation spots for future family trips, “when the world is ours again, we can be free again.”
Soccer, ironically enough, isn’t one of his main worries right now. Don’t be mistaken, of course he wants to get back on the field as soon as possible after nearly two years away from the game because of injury. It’s just that he’s not worried about it.
He’s confident Real Salt Lake is doing everything right to keep the players fit, and players are doing everything they can to stay connected so when training resumes the culture of the team will immediately return.
Thursday was Kyle Beckerman’s birthday, and Rossi said everyone flooded him with messages in the group text.
“It’s important we continue this camaraderie among us, even though we’re not really there in front of each other,” said Rossi.
He said soccer will be the easy part whenever the glorious day finally returns.
“If you’re out for a month or two, the touch, the feel of the ball for a soccer player, you’re always going to get it back very quickly, but for now it’s about trying to maintain a certain level of fitness so when you get back you’re not so far behind,” said Rossi.
He can’t wait for that day to come so he can try and get his career back on track in MLS after a decade and a half in Europe.