The pandemic literally hit home for Toronto FC's Quentin Westberg during the pre-season.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper was one of the club members to contact COVID-19. And it spread through his wife and four children.
"We all had COVID," said Westberg, who was born in France to an American father and French mother. "I was one of the players that got contaminated. Living in a foreign country with a family, being six in our household, little by little everyone got it."
His family is fine now but there were real concerns with the youngest, who is one. It made for a tense 12 hours, he said.
"We had to take her to the hospital but she was fine right after. So it was a big scare but ultimately everyone is fine and hopefully it's the end of it."
"As hard as it was, I'm really proud of the way my kids and my wife handled it," he added. "I wasn't really worried myself because it was very, very mild. There's a point in life where you worry more about others."
Westberg also has kids aged five, nine and 11. The family is now in France after spending time with Westberg at the team's training base in Orlando.
The MLS club had just said Westberg was late arriving at training camp due to a family matter.
"Basically the reason I was delayed into camp is I wanted everyone to be fine and healed to meet the team," he said. "I just filled my father duties, which I take very seriously, first and then being able to focus on the field."
Good memories kept him going.
"If it wasn't for the club and the memory of these BMO (Field) nights and how I felt in Toronto and how I've been welcomed all over, both at the club and outside the club and overall, I don't think I would still be here. That tells a lot. I'm still hugely grateful for everything from both the club and the people at the club. Honestly the only reason I'm still here is how happy I am to be surrounded by great people like this."
Westberg was only about a week late arriving at camp. But with Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League matches looming, Alex Bono regained the starting position he had lost when Westberg arrived at the club in 2019.
Westberg took the move philosophically, saying he embraces challenges put in front of him.
"Most importantly I think I'm fit and still willing and I still have the grit in me and I still have the love for the game mostly. So it's another challenge. At the end of the day, it's how you face them and how you overcome them."
He didn't get to play until after the recent international break. He looked a little rusty in a 3-2 loss to Orlando last Saturday but was back to his best Wednesday in Nashville. Westberg marked his 50th MLS start for TFC with a string of big saves, although he could not prevent a late-game collapse in another 3-2 setback.
"In a way it was good to get a decent performance out of my system to really move forward," he said.
Westberg said while physically he was ready for the Orlando game, "there are just some games where it doesn't go well. And this was one of these games for me."
He says everyone is struggling at the 1-6-2 club in their own way, but also battling to right the ship in difficult circumstances.
"In the back of our heads, we were thinking 2020 was going to be the challenging year and then maybe 2021 was going to be a little bit easier. And it's not. It's a big toll mentally because you're kind of unsettled (away from home)."
"Now we're facing challenges. But there's one thing I know here — we're not going to give up ...We are moving forward as a group and as a team under (coach) Chris Armas," he added.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2021