Jim Curtin – Philadelphia Union – glance from coach
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Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin on coronavirus pandemic: "Competitiveness has to take a back seat to doing what's right"

News updates surrounding the pandemic of COVID-19 have come rapidly since Wednesday, impacting all walks of life, including the world of sports. 

As the Philadelphia Union were preparing for their home opener this weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes, a few days removed from a riveting 3-3 draw with reigning Supporters' Shield winners LAFC, everything changed in a flash. 

After the NBA suspended their season on Wednesday night, MLS followed suit on Thursday. The NHL has done so as well, while MLB have paused spring training and delayed their opening day. In a flash, the Union and all other clubs went from preparation for the weekend, to ensuring they were doing the best for public safety. 

"We're on the field yesterday preparing like we're going to play against San Jose, a typical Thursday training session," head coach Jim Curtin told reporters on a conference call Friday. "It ends, I walk off the field and I'm informed that the league has suspended play. It's the eerie feeling of the unknown, for what this really means. I think we're kind of just at the tip of the coronavirus."

Curtin reiterated the club are fully behind the league's decision to suspend play, citing the "health and safety of the community is what's important at this time."

The players have been directed to stay away from the training facility until further updates on Monday, including the first team, Union II and the club's academy. MLS have told clubs that players are allowed to train individually, but have been informed to stay away from gathering in groups for training throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Union had been without a few players. Mark McKenzie, Brenden Aaronson and Matt Freese were in Mexico with the United States U-23 squad preparing for the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament, but the confederation officially postponed the games on Friday.

The trio took a flight back on Thursday night and arrived in Philly Friday morning, instructed purchase masks to wear when they flew and other precautions.

As for Curtin, it's uncharted territory.

"As a head coach of a team and professional soccer players, we're all wired to think of every little advantage we can gain," Curtin said. "Can we have a mini-preseason or friendlies to prepare us? But, that has to go out the window right now. Heath has to come first. That competitiveness has to take a back seat to doing what's right."

Curtin can only review the same film so many times, expecting to have a big increase in family time at home. 

"The best advice we're seeing is stay in your house, don't gather in groups," Curtin said. "It's early in this thing, it's always evolving and changing. Everyone should take the necessary precautions and take it as a very serious thing."