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Eleven Union players are in MLS’ health and safety protocols ahead of the Eastern Conference final

As of Saturday morning, five starters were listed as out of Sunday's game, including all but one of the regulars on the team's back line.

Union captain Alejandro Bedoya (right) is among the players currently sidelined by MLS' health and safety protocols.
Union captain Alejandro Bedoya (right) is among the players currently sidelined by MLS' health and safety protocols.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

We finally know the names of of the Union players who are sidelined by the league’s health and safety protocols.

A quiet disclosure Saturday morning of the game notes for Sunday’s Eastern Conference final against New York City FC at Subaru Park (3 p.m., 6abc and ESPN Deportes) revealed that 11 players were out of action, including five regular starters.

The players are goalkeepers Andre Blake and Joe Bendik; defenders Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Alvas Powell and Kai Wagner; midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Quinn Sullivan; and forwards Cory Burke, Ilsinho and Sergio Santos. All are listed as out for Sunday.

That the players are in the protocols does not mean they have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the league’s rules, they can also be going into protocols for quarantines due to “participating in high-risk behavior” or “being a high-risk close contact,” pending or inconclusive COVID-19 test results, or “other illness not related to COVID-19.”

Union manager Jim Curtin said in mid-October that all of his players were vaccinated. That doesn’t stop someone from contracting COVID-19, but it does mitigate the effects.

The league’s rules dictate that neither the team nor the league can announce what happened to a player; a player must do that himself. So far, none of the affected Union players have done so.

» READ MORE: Yes, you can get COVID-19 more than once. Here’s what to know about reinfections, including how vaccines help significantly.

The league’s rules on how long players in various situations must sit out are complex. The clearest rule is that a player who tests positive is sidelined for 10 days even if he is vaccinated.

Players or staff who engage in “high-risk behavior,” which is defined in the league’s rules, must quarantine for five days regardless of whether or not they test positive, and must be tested daily for 14 days. Examples of such behavior include going to a nightclub, bar, indoor house party, indoor concert or other entertainment events where attendees aren’t wearing masks.

An unvaccinated player or staffer who is judged to be a high-risk close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must also quarantine for five days and be tested daily for 14 days. But a vaccinated player or staffer who’s deemed a high-risk close contact is exempt from the quarantine if they are asymptomatic and continue to test negative.

It’s not known whether the exemption from quarantine for a vaccinated player means that it would be impossible for a vaccinated player to go into the protocol simply by being a high-risk close contact.

But it is known that players can be cleared to play in a given game up to an hour before kickoff.

“We’ll put the best possible team out there on the field to try to limit a very, very talented New York City FC team,” Curtin said in a news conference Friday. “As the leader of the group, it’s my job to get these guys ready. There will be no excuses. We’ll go out on the field and we’ll give an effort that makes the badge proud.”

» READ MORE: Win or lose, Subaru Park on Sunday will prove Philly is also a soccer town | Kerith Gabriel

A league source said that there are no plans to postpone the game. The Union have 17 senior-roster players available, and were granted a hardship exception by the league to add three reserves to Sunday’s squad: goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh (the league’s emergency pool goalkeeper), centerback Brandan Craig, and left back Anton Sorenson — an 18-year-old Union academy product who was reportedly going to sign a homegrown deal this summer, but it was never announced.

If the list of Union players out holds up through Sunday afternoon, here’s who will be available:

Goalkeepers (2): Matt Freese, Greg Ranjitsingh

Defenders (7): Aurélien Collin, Brandan Craig, Stuart Findlay, Nathan Harriel, Olivier Mbaizo, Matt Real, Anton Sorenson

Midfielders (9): Dániel Gazdag, José Andrés Martínez, Jamiro Monteiro, Cole Turner, Jack McGlynn, Jesús Bueno, Anthony Fontana, Paxten Aaronson, Leon Flach

Forwards (2): Kacper Przybylko, Matheus Davó

MLS’ championship game is set for next Saturday in Portland (3 p.m., 6abc, UniMás and TUDN), thanks to the Timbers’ 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in Saturday’s Western Conference final. Portland earned the right to host the final by totaling more regular season standings points (55) than the Union (54) or NYCFC (51).

» READ MORE: Eleven key games in the Union's run to the Eastern Conference final

» Join The Inquirer’s soccer staff for live coverage of the Union’s Eastern Conference final showdown with New York City FC on Sunday in Union Gameday Central. Kickoff is set for just after 3 p.m.