Yesterday, news broke that the Philadelphia Union had been dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak within the team’s personnel ahead of their upcoming clash against New York City FC in the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday. While specific players were omitted from initial reports, it has since been revealed some 24 hours later that a total of 11 players were currently being put through MLS’ Health & Safety protocols, many of them stars.
Thede 11 players include the following, according to Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
- Alejandro Bedoya
- Joe Bendik
- Andre Blake
- Cory Burke
- Jack Elliott
- Jakob Glesnes
- Alvas Powell
- Sergio Santos
- Quinn Sullivan
- Kai Wagner
Of these 11 players, at least 8 of them — if not more — could be considered either perennial starters or important pieces to the team. The outbreak has particularly ravaged the Union’s defense, with every member of the defensive back four that started in the Eastern Conference Semifinal — including star goalkeeper Andre Blake — currently going through the league’s COVID process.
The entire situation is a mess and, honestly, a little bit disappointing. Most NYCFC fans won’t be celebrating this development due to the fandom’s lack of tolerance when it comes to rival fans and their excuses, and this extensive list of absentees could very much spell doom for Philly going into Sunday. In the case that many of these players won’t be participating, many sports books will obviously hedge their bets on the Boys in Blue punching their ticket to the MLS Cup Final, even without the services of star striker Taty Castellanos.
While we’re not sure exactly how good the Union’s squad depth is, even the best platoon of players couldn’t be adequate enough to compensate for what is essentially a full team missing. Hopefully, things get better in the next 24 hours and this game can proceed with as little issues as possible.