SEATTLE, Wash. — Although there's no good time to contract COVID-19, it came at perhaps the worst possible moment for Real Salt Lake's captain.
RSL is set to play its first playoff game of the 2021 postseason Tuesday night. But only about an hour before kickoff, the team announced that midfielder Albert Rusnák tested positive.
Rusnák will not play with his teammates in their game against the Seattle Sounders, and a statement he gave indicated he didn't even travel with the team to the away game.
"Bad news today, guys. Unfortunately, I've tested positive for COVID. It's hard to believe I'm not there with the boys in Seattle. But I know this group. Everyone works & fights for each other. I have all the confidence in the world we will get the job done! I'll be back as soon as health permits," Rusnák said.
During the 2021 season, RSL and the Sounders each won one of their two games. They both won at home by a single goal.
But the Utah squad faces a challenge, considering their track record playing in Seattle: Between regular season, playoffs and tournaments, they are 3-14-3 in combined overall history playing on the Sounders' home turf. RSL has also lost four consecutive MLS Cup Playoff games there, and Seattle is undefeated at home for the past 16 home playoff games.
Prior to the unfortunate news of testing positive, however, Rusnák said they aren't looking in the rear-view mirror at all. He emphasized that none of it matters, and the game starts at 0-0.
And although it doesn't directly affect Tuesday night's match, the league announced earlier the same day that RSL forward Rubio Rubín won the Goal of the Year award for scoring with an incredible bicycle kick against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 7.