The MLS Eastern Conference between Philadelphia Union and New York City FC is scheduled to kick off at 3 PM on Sunday at the Subaru Park in Chester. An MLS Cup final seat is on the line. The Union could be forced to play a massively weakened team, as 11 important players (including captain Alejandro Bedoya) have been placed on the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols list.

Philadelphia Union players
On Monday, Philadelphia Union’s players celebrated together after beating Nashville SC to reach the Eastern Conference final. (Image: Twitter/philaunion)

Alongside Bedoya, goalkeeper Andre Blake and defenders Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliot and Kai Wagner are on the list of potentially unavailable players. Also included are forwards Cory Burke and Sergio Santos, midfielders Ilsinho and Quinn Sullivan, defender Alvas Powell and substitute goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

As per the MLS protocols in place, a player may be listed as “questionable” or “out” for testing positive for COVID-19, having an inconclusive test result, having a pending test result, quarantining for engaging in high-risk behavior or being a high-risk close contact or having another illness unrelated to COVID-19.

The Union coach Jim Curtin revealed his players haven’t trained on Thursday after 11 entered the COVID protocol.

“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, a very strong opponent, a tough team to play against,” Curtin commented.

“Our players have worked tirelessly to get to this point. I know that they’ll be brave, even in the adversity that we’re facing right now,” Curtin said.

Philadelphia Union beat New York Red Bulls 1-0 after extra time and Nashville SC in a penalty shootout to reach the Eastern Conference final.

Bookies believe Union’s chance of reaching the MLS Cup final are minimal under the given circumstances. Philadelphia are at +320 to beat New York City on Sunday afternoon, with a draw at +260. New York City’s odds have been slashed, as they are now at -120 to contest the MLS Cup final.

The winner between Philadelphia and NYCFC will meet either Portland Timbers or Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final on 11 December.

Philadelphia Union and New York City FC last played against each other on the last day of the regular season, drawing 1-1. Philadelphia finished second in the Eastern Conference, with NYCFC fourth.