CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – A COVID crisis may have dashed the dreams of the Philadelphia Union battling for an Eastern Conference championship. Sunday’s game was the most important in franchise history.
However, 11 key players have been sidelined by league health and safety protocols.
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“We’ll never know what we could have done tonight with a full squad,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the loss.
Philadelphia Union players, coaches and fans are left to wonder after COVID health protocols sidelined 11 players, including their captain and goalie. Current health guidelines require players to self-quarantine if they have high-risk close contact, test results included or a confirmed case or other illness unrelated to COVID.
“You have 11 players that I feel bad about who had to stay home perfectly healthy and watch the game,” Curtin said.
This forced the Union to start the biggest game in club history without most of its starters.
“They did a lot better than we expected,” said fan Justine Iaea.
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After limiting New York City FC to a scoreless start, a goal within two minutes of regulation play ended their hopes of qualifying for the championship.
Still, fans who spoke to CBS3 said that despite the outcome, they were happy to be here to cheer on their home team.
“I think it was awesome, the energy was awesome and it was really fun,” fan Liam Morris said.
Union’s courage has even attracted some highly unlikely fans: a trio from Boston, who drove 6:6 am just to put down roots against the team that beat their team last week.
“It was loud, it was rowdy. We love our Revolution there, but there is really a special passion that we saw here, ”said Braeden Cheverie, who came to cheer on New York.
Forever blue. Gold forever.
We fought with you. We fought for you. Union fans, thank you for an incredible year. Thanks for always pushing our guys up to 90 ‘or 120’ or through the PKs. Thank you for making our home our home.
We will be back. pic.twitter.com/d6UkpTFoDW
– PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) December 5, 2021
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After the game, the team tweeted a thank you to their fans for their support.