With less than 24 hours before his team takes the field against New York City FC in the MLS is Back Tournament, Philadelphia Union striker Kacper Przybylko is focused on the challenge ahead of him.
“I’m going to do like everything just to push everybody because I hate losing in training in practice, so I’m going to hate it for sure that losing the game against NYC,” he said in a video conference call on Wednesday.
Despite his excitement to take the field, Prybylko was aware of the challenges ahead, specifically, the 9 a.m. kick-off.
“I’m gonna wake up at like 6 a.m.; I don’t know if I can eat at this time, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to figure out some way,” he said. “But it’s our job. I don’t want to say anything but it’s our job so if I have to play at 6 a.m. in the morning I’m going to play at 6 a.m. in the morning.”
Despite the looming threat of COVID-19 disrupting the competition — FC Dallas has been withdrawn and Nashville SC may also have to withdraw — Przylbylko says that he isn’t letting that impact his view on the upcoming competition.
“It’s very hard…but I think we’re going to be faced with a game and we shouldn’t like use like the virus as an excuse. I think we all agree to the terms and I think the terms are very good here. So, let’s just be professional and have fun at this game,” he said.
Przybylko himself received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 in March, however, he says he still has to follow all the MLS protocol while in “the bubble” in Florida.
“It doesn’t matter if you had the virus or if you didn’t have like the virus, you just follow all the rules here and if you just follow the rules I think everyone’s gonna be fine,” he said. “So, if everybody’s just doing their job here and also like being professionals I think everything’s going to be perfect.”
The Union have spent the last few months preparing for the MLS tournament, with individual practices starting in May as states reopened. And with the games fast approaching, Przybylko thinks his team is ready and in shape.
“I’ve seen already that everyone is in shape. Everyone there says so,” he said.
Even the team’s chemistry has improved, something that Przybylko attributed to the months-long break.
“Besides the field, where we’re also doing a great job, we’re getting closer and closer, as a team and, and I like it very much like being here and having that kind of teammates,” he said. “We’re not only so close on the field, I can always call everyone just to ask for help.”
Possibly the most notable difficulty that the Union will face will be the lack of fans cheering them on, or berating them, at the Florida tournament. Despite this, Przybylko says that he’ll be “professional” and still leave it all out on the field.
“You don’t play soccer just because you need the fans, you play soccer because you love what you do,” he said. “You have to do everything just to get these three points.”