Union forward Kacper Przybylko, the team’s leading scorer over the last two years, said Wednesday on his Instagram feed that he was the previously-unnamed player who tested positive for COVID-19 in late March.
“I immediately alerted the proper team officials about my symptoms and went straight to self-isolating,” he said in a video message. “My goal was not to risk anyone else. After I received my test, I also went for quarantine for 14 days.”
Przybylko, a 27-year-old Germany native, was the first player in Major League Soccer publicly known to have contracted the virus. He chose to keep quiet until now, and the Union honored his request.
Though the team announced on April 1 that a player had tested positive, no one outside of the organization knew who it was until his announcement.
“I would like to thank everybody for respecting my privacy at this time," he said. “I just needed some time for myself before I wanted to share with everybody. Especially my teammates, my close friends, my family, thanks for that — and also, thanks for all the support I got from my fiancee, from my family, from my Union family, my teammates, the medical staff, everyone else.”
Przybylko said he only had “mild symptoms with a little bit of fever,” and he feels “fully recovered right now.”
Considering how long it’s been since the initial announcement, he has had ample time to stay isolated from coaches and teammates. But he still might not see them for a while, since Philadelphia and Delaware County remain under stay-at-home orders through at least June 4. The Union have not gotten clearance to allow individual training sessions for players at the team’s training facility in Chester.
Eight other MLS teams also have not been cleared, and it’s no coincidence that they’re all in coronavirus hot spots: Chicago, D.C., Montreal, New England, both New York teams, San Jose and Seattle.
In the meantime, the Union have launched a series of charity initiatives to help medical workers and residents in need across Delaware County.
The Washington Post reported Monday that MLS would like to get all of its teams to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando at the start of June for a few weeks of training, then a series of neutral-site games. That is, however, contingent on there being enough testing supplies available for teams, referees and other staff to use without affecting the general populace.
Delran-born Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said Wednesday that the league has asked teams to find firms in their local markets who can supply tests in the short term.
“I’m an optimist, I’m thinking that everybody’s going to get there, and everybody’s going to try to get there,” he said. “I think we’ve got to keep looking for solutions, and we’re going to keep trying to do that no matter what the case is.”
MLS suspended its season on March 12. The last games played by any teams were Concacaf Champions League contests by Atlanta United and New York City FC on March 11. The last regular-season league games were played on March 8, including the Union’s 3-3 tie at Los Angeles FC.
The Union have told season-ticket holders that for any home games that are canceled, money will be credited toward next season’s tickets. Fans can also request refunds when cancellations become official, and opt out of renewing for next year if desired.
ESPN reported Monday that MLS has asked the MLS Players Association to take a 20% pay cut across the board because of lost game-day revenue. The two sides agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement in February, but it hasn’t been ratified yet.
While everyone waits for progress, Przybylko is asking fans to do their part and follow the state’s stay-at-home order.
“I’m looking forward to the magical moment to be back at practice, and with you all,” he said. "So let’s follow the rules. Philly is a big family. We all have to stay together, fight for each other. So let’s follow the rules [set] by the government. Hope you guys are staying safe.”