Philadelphia Union defender Jakob Glesnes to undergo sports hernia surgery

Jakob Glesnes - playoffs - Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union will be without one of their top players for most, if not all, of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Head coach Jim Curtin, speaking after Saturday’s 3-1 home win over the New England Revolution, disclosed that center back Jakob Glesnes will soon undergo sports hernia surgery.

“It's a surgery that he's not coming back in a week or two,” Curtin said following Game 1 in their Round One Best-of-3 series. “I'll never rule him out, but it's going to take a couple of weeks to heal.”

Glesnes, 29, is a two-time All-Star and was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2022. The Norwegian defender has been an ironman of sorts since joining Philadelphia before the 2020 season, developing a partnership with Jack Elliott in front of goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Jamaican international Damion Lowe, an offseason trade acquisition from Inter Miami CF, gives Philadelphia depth at center back. But Glesnes’ absence is felt by a club that lost MLS Cup 2022 to LAFC on penalty kicks.

“You can tell when a player comes in and we had that kind of final talk where surgery's probably the smartest thing to do at this stage,” Curtin said. “He gives everything for the badge and left everything he could on the field this year. But unfortunately the pain has gotten to a point where it's intolerable.

“There's no one tougher than Jakob, so when I say pain it's a point where he's about as tough as it gets. He's a Viking, a true Viking and he wants to be out there. But sometimes your body tells you and you have to listen.”

Philadelphia, the East’s No. 4 seed, can close their series at New England with a Game 2 victory (Nov. 8). They’d then likely be on the road for later stages, though could host MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9 if the bracket falls their way.

Along the way, overcoming a Glesnes-sized hole is easier said than done.

“That's the sad part because he wants to get back to MLS Cup, he wants to be with the guys,” Curtin said. “But he'll have to do that now as more a coach, to be honest, with me on the sidelines.”