The Philadelphia Union could enter Sunday’s Eastern Conference final against New York City severely depleted, with as many as 11 players currently on the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols list.
The players include starters Alejandro Bedoya (the club captain), goalkeeper Andre Blake and defenders Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliot and Kai Wagner. Also included are forwards Cory Burke and Sergio Santos, midfielders Ilsinho and Quinn Sullivan, defender Alvas Powell and backup goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 3 p.m. Sunday at Subaru Park in Chester, with a spot in the MLS Cup final on the line. A league spokesman confirmed to NBC10 that the game will go on as scheduled.
According to Major League Soccer, a player may be listed as “questionable” or “out” for testing positive for COVID-19, having an inconclusive test result, having a pending test result, quarantining for engaging in high-risk behavior or being a high-risk close contact or having another illness unrelated to COVID-19.
Coach Jim Curtin announced during the regular season that all of the Union players had been vaccinate
Speaking after Friday's training session, Curtin revealed that his team didn't train the previous day due to players entering the COVID protocols.
“We will follow the league’s protocols, obviously, with the hope of having as many players available for our game against New York City FC, a very strong opponent, a tough team to play against," Curtin said.
The absence of Blake could be particularly difficult, with the Jamaican earning plaudits after saving two penalties in the Union's shootout victory over Nashville, a win that propelled his team into the Eastern Conference final.
Curtin on Friday acknowledged the enormity of the task ahead, but he praised the spirit his side has shown this season and expressed optimism about getting a win Sunday.
“Our players have worked tirelessly to get to this point. I know that they’ll be brave, even in the adversity that we’re facing right now," he said.