The Columbus Crew is set to take on the Seattle Sounders in Seattle Saturday, but due to concerns over COVID-19, the club will train in Columbus instead of Seattle Friday to minimize players' potential exposure to the virus.
Washington state has 70 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and 10 people have died. Most of those deaths have been at a nursing home in a suburb of Seattle.
At practice Thursday, the Crew didn’t seem too worried. After talking with MLS officials, the head coach Caleb Porter said everything is set to go on as planned this weekend.
"Everybody's aware of what's happening there, and we've had conversations with them about it. At the end of the day, the game's on as planned. We'll be traveling there, and we have to have the mindset we're going to play,” Porter said.
The Columbus Crew released the following statement Thursday evening:
Columbus Crew SC, along with Major League Soccer and its clubs, have been closely monitoring COVID-19. Major League Soccer's task force has been monitoring the most recent developments and communicating with MLS clubs regarding appropriate measures to take as the situation continues to evolve. The health and safety of the players, staff and supporters are of utmost importance. In collaboration with MLS, Crew SC intends to continue with its match preparation, including travel, in advance of Saturday's road match in Seattle and will be monitoring the situation as it develops. Crew SC and MAPFRE Stadium will continue to work with relevant governmental agencies and the club's task force to monitor the situation over the next week ahead of the club's scheduled home match.
The Crew then updated their statement saying:
The Club will now train in Columbus on Friday before chartering into Seattle, returning after the match on Saturday evening. The Club’s statement regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) is below. This alteration to the team’s travel plans is being done out of an abundance of caution headed into this weekend’s match.
As for fans who attend the game, there will be hand sanitizer stations throughout CenturyLink Field and cleansing wipes at concession stands.
The Sounds released a statement that said, "Sounders FC is part of both a regional task force and Major League Soccer’s task force to monitor this developing situation, As matters evolve and more information becomes available, we will continue to provide details to the public.”
Coming off a season-opening win, the Crew will take on the Sounders at 10 p.m. Saturday.