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Porter: Crew players returning from COVID-19 self-isolation before ECF

All players with COVID-19 have shown no symptoms and are doing well with regular check-ins from the club’s staff.

SOCCER: NOV 21 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Round One - NY Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With just three days to go until the 2020 Eastern Conference Final between the Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution, the Black & Gold are continuing to have to deal with COVID-19 cases amongst the players. Luckily, there is some lot of good news coming from the Crew camp regarding the players’ health and safety.

Head coach Caleb Porter gave an update on Thursday afternoon in regards to his players that are recovering from coronavirus. Last week, seven Crew players had confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 with an eighth player testing positive this Monday.

“The guys that are confirmed positive with COVID are feeling good,” stated Porter. “None of them have had symptoms so that’s good. We’ve been checking in on them obviously and making sure they are doing okay daily. The staff has done a great job of that as well. They are recovering.”

Even with another player testing positive for COVID-19 this week, the spread seems to be contained with the recent daily test results. The club has had four consecutive testing sessions with all negatives across the board.

As time passes, some of the players who previously tested positive will approach a point where they can return to work with their team and not have to be isolated.

“We would expect to have a few of those start to get back in based on following the protocol of their return and getting their cardiac tests and going through the steps they have to go through,” Porter said. “We would expect a few of those guys towards the end of this week.”

Porter declined to name specific players that are going through this process but those that are getting closer to return would technically be available to play in Sunday’s match against New England for a spot in the MLS Cup Final. The players are currently still in different stages but Porter confirmed that one player has cleared his cardiac test and is available now to train and for selection in Sunday’s match. A second player will be at this exact stage by Saturday.

“The toughest thing again is they are not able to work out for ten days,” Porter explained. “Those are the things that are tricky.”

Another tricky subject for the Crew has been re-adjusting is the team’s training schedule. After announcing the eighth positive test for a player, the team did not train on Wednesday. Porter explained that out of an abundance of caution, the team elected to take two days away from the facility to help prevent any further positives.

“We did that just to be sure that we can kind of just eliminate hopefully anyone that was in close contact with that cohort last week,” Porter said. “Today [Thursday], we trained. We’ll train tomorrow [Friday]. We’ll train Saturday. We’ll get three days of preparation which is plenty.”

Outside of the Crew’s COVID-19 updates, the city of Columbus and the state of Ohio had some recent developments in that department as well. Governor Mike DeWine announced that Franklin County has been reduced from Level 4 to Level 3, which signifies very high exposure and spread rather than severe. The governor added that he will provide a plan for the vaccine’s distribution on Friday with the state currently having over 5,000 people hospitalized and around 1,000 of those patients in the ICU.

The Crew will take on the New England Revolution this Sunday in the Eastern Conference Final at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. The club will welcome public fans back into attendance at MAPFRE Stadium in a limited capacity for the first time in nearly a month.