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Unprecedented times for local soccer clubs

File Photo courtesy of Ed Thompson

Unprecedented times for local soccer clubs

What a difference a week makes. The sports world has pretty much come to a halt.

As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States, and in our region, continue to increase, and with the CDC now recommending that no events with more than 50 people should take place for an eight week period, almost everything related to soccer in our region has been, or will be shut down.

 

Most other professional sports leagues, including NBA, NHL have shut down completely.  On Sunday, MLS and NWSL closed training league-wide.  No announcement has officially come from USL, yet.

However, on Monday, MLS, NWSL and USL representatives convened for a conference call to discuss the next steps for American soccer in the midst of this pandemic.

Following this conference call, and mandate that all non-essential businesses across the board are being ordered to close down by midnight Monday, Pittsburgh Soccer Now has learned from club officials that the Riverhounds SC will now halt team training for  at least two weeks.

If you haven’t done the math, the eight-week timeline would take us through mid-May.

When the leagues will eventually resume play, if they make an attempt to complete the full slate, the seasons could extend into December.  In a best-case scenario, the league returning in mid-to-late May may require some challenging schedule adjustments.

Another soccer-related casualty from COVID-19 is the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the longest continually running soccer competition in the United States. This year’s Open Cup was scheduled to start with first-round action on March 24-25. The Hounds would have entered the tournament in early April in the second round.  U.S. Soccer announced that the first three rounds would be suspended. The USL (with both the second-division USL Championship and third-division USL League One) has since requested not to participate in this year’s tournament in light of the current situation.  That would bring the total number of clubs participating down from 100 to 61.

Meanwhile, the club released some information regarding ticket-related questions.

In addition, the Riverhounds Development Academy shut things down through the weekend and announced on Monday that they’ve cancelled all youth programming through the next two weeks.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST FACTS ON COVID-19 (from UPMC.com)

Meanwhile, locally, just about every club has also pulled the plug on all activities.

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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