Major League Soccer

Philadelphia Union Covid protocols will affect them for the Eastern Conference Final against NYCFC

Philadelphia Union are facing a COVID-19 crisis ahead of their Eastern Conference final clash with New York City FC on Sunday.

The Philadelphia Union have encountered a roadblock ahead of competing in their first-ever Eastern Conference Final.
The Philadelphia Union have encountered a roadblock ahead of competing in their first-ever Eastern Conference Final.

The Philadelphia Union could be at risk of missing several key names for their home playoff match against New York City FC in the Eastern Conference final. The winner books a ticket to the 2021 MLS Cup. Only nine players were spotted in Friday's training as good chunk of the players entered the league's COVID health and safety protocols. Safe to say things are up in the air for who will be available for Philly coach Jim Curtin.

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin’s plans for preparing for the one of the biggest games in team history hit an unforeseen roadblock on Thursday with COVID-19 health and safety protocols forcing the cancelation of training.

Now, two days before kicking off in the Eastern Conference Final against New York City FC at Subaru Park, it’s unclear how many players may not be in the team because of those protocols.

Curtin said despite the emotions around the situation, he’s confident that his players will rally from the adversity and find a way to step up on Sunday.

Jim Curtin Philadelphia Union head coach statements

“I hope everyone can now respect the fact that I can’t speak on the health of certain individual players,” Curtin said in a news conference with media on Friday after revealing that they had returned to training. “We’re gonna prepare as best we can with the hope that everybody’s available. The reality is that’s probably not likely, but we’re trying to do our best to follow the protocols and get everybody prepared as best we can for a really tough game.”

Union were without starters Jamiro Monteiro and Olivier Mbaizo for their playoff win over New York Red Bulls which took them to the semifinals and could be missing even more first-team players for the final.

"Our players have worked tirelessly to get to this point," Curtin added. "I know they'll be brave even in the adversity that we're facing.

Philadelphia Union players that probably will be in the final

Digging a little deeper if who was in training today, is close to who is available, there won't be enough players for the game to take place.

Philadelphia midfielder Leon Flach, 20, wasn't mentioned in the picture above but was also present in Friday's training. But with MLS protocol being murky it is unclear what will happen. Each member of the team would be considered a tier-one individual for league purposes as social distancing and face masks aren't always possible for them.

MLS Covid Protocols

In the case of the positive tests, contact tracing has already happened but the protocol states that even if a player tests negative, they must self-isolate and return one additional negative rapid PCR test taken 24 hours after the negative result. This would mean with the game being Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, there isn't much time if a negative test isn't returned by Saturday morning.

Anyone who tests positive could run the risk of missing the MLS Cup, but that is the least of the Union's worries as they need to make it there first. Once it is determined what members of the team have actually tested positive, that's when close contacts come into play. Depending on what event caused the outbreak, people classed as being in close contact can take part in match play as long as they undergo daily testing, quarantine when not doing essential job functions, and wear a face mask.

Only if someone is a high-risk close contact would they have to isolate and not play in matches. High-risk contacts are anyone who lives together, exchanges bodily fluids, gathers in an enclosed space for 15 or more minutes with the person or persons who tested positive 48 hours prior to their positive test. Eating within six feet of each other would also fall into this class.

Fully vaccinated players can be exempt from their quarantine requirement if they return a positive test but those who aren't vaccinated must observe a five-day quarantine. This would mean that if any members of the Union aren't vaccinated and didn't participate in training, they would virtually have to sit out Sunday's game due to close contacts. Anyone else has a shot of making the match with enough negative tests and hope.

Philadelphia Union beat Nashville FC to reach the Eastern Conference Final

Hugo Alberto Walls Gómez

SEO Journalist. Bachelor's Degree in Communication and Media Production. Two years working in digital media and editorial assignments. Currently working for Futbolero US and collaborating with INDeportes and Goleadoras MX, following Liga MX, MLS, and the Premier League. Passionate about sports and soccer.+ info

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