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COVID-19 protocols impact Philadelphia Union preparations for conference final; could keep players out for Sunday

“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.” - 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.

“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. “I hope everyone can now respect the fact that I can’t speak on the health of certain individual players. “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.”

When asked about details of the league’s protocols and timeline, Curtin declined to give specifics and offered little by way of how many players in the squad could be impacted by them.

“We live in unique times,” Curtin said. “I think we all have understood that. We’ve all had to find ways with our families to adjust to adapt to make the best out of situations so that’s what we’ll do.”

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.

“You do feel bad for certain players who put so much into into the season,” Curtin said. “Whether or not they’ll be part of things in the in the 90 minutes is still to be determined. So that part is difficult, no question about it. But again, I said it to the group, ‘This is why you get paid money to play a sport, this is what the literal definition of what it means to be a professional is, always being ready.’”