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COVID-19: What will the soccer calendar look like for the rest of 2019?

Borussia Dortmund took on Benfica at Heinz Field in July 2018. Photo Credit: David Hague

These are some interesting times we are living in right now throughout the World and I hope that everyone is adhering to “Social Distancing” practices so we can flatten the curve and return to a “relative” normal sooner rather than later.

That leads to the question of what could the sports schedule look like when sports resume in realistically at least a couple months.

With soccer, does that mean Championship rounds around Thanksgiving? If that’s the case, sign me up.

First things first, I think we are approaching the point right now where the Premier League will just end their 2019-20 season, award the Championship to Liverpool as the Champions and start looking ahead to their 2020-21 season. 

The beginning of a Premier League season is usually around the middle of August and I don’t think they would want to push back the start of that season.  Liverpool has run away with the top spot and was not going to be caught so just leave this season be.

Another big cancellation on the Soccer Schedule this Summer was the CONCACAF Nations League Finals that were scheduled to take place from June 4 thru 7, and of course, the UEFA (European) Championship, which has been postponed now until 2021.  Although there hasn’t been any official announcements, but there’s almost zero chance any of the European clubs will come to the United States to compete in friendlies and International Champions Cup during the summer. 

It’s not so simple for Major League Soccer (MLS) and United Soccer League (USL) because the MLS was only two weeks into their season and the USL only saw its first weekend of play when all the postponements began to happen. 

On Wednesday, the MLS extended their moratorium on team training through at least Friday April 3 which puts a season resumption on pace for the beginning of May most likely if the Coronavirus Pandemic doesn’t get worse and the curve begins to flatten/head back down.

The USL also announced earlier this week that they are extending their season postponement through May 10 and still plan to reschedule all missed matches at later dates in the season.

What could that look like?

I can see anything from two matches some weeks to a very extended regular season.

If the USL can restart on May 10 and wants to reschedule all of the missed matches, that would mean nine games to be rescheduled for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the final game of the regular season was already scheduled for October 17 this season.  There is no room to add on at the end of the schedule for nine games with the playoffs.

To make rescheduling all the games work, the first eight weeks of the season should be two game weeks and then add one week on to the end of the season.

With the MLS, the same thing would make sense using the Orlando City SC schedule as an example. If they don’t have to extend the postponement they would need to make up 10 games with their last regular season game scheduled right now for October 4, 2020.

The first six weeks of the MLS restarted season should be two games per week and then add-on four weeks to the end of the regular season.

That way both MLS and USL soccer seasons would be ending around the same time with each respective championship taking place around Thanksgiving or beginning of December.

If the MLS regular season followed this path and concluded on Halloween Weekend (October 31-November 1), the first round of the playoffs would be the weekend of November 7-8 which would make the MLS Cup Final over Thanksgiving Weekend.

If the USL regular season followed this same path and concluded on the weekend of October 24-25, that would put the first round of the playoffs taking place over Halloween Weekend (October 31-November 1) which would make the USL Championship Final over Thanksgiving Weekend.

The suggestion I would make here would be to have the USL Championship Final on Black Friday followed by the MLS Cup Final on Saturday night.

That would work beautifully when it comes to TV coverage that weekend because both the NFL and College Football spread their games out that weekend. 

We all know the NFL plays three games on Thanksgiving, one on that Monday and the rest on the Sunday. While College Football spreads their games that weekend with half being played on Black Friday and the half being played on Saturday.

The 2020 WPIAL Soccer schedule and Championship dates have not been released yet, but that usually falls somewhere in the first weekend of November.

The real question is, will there even be a Fall sports season for our high school athletes?  

It is just a very fluid situation right now because we just don’t know what is going to happen.

The first thing we all got to take care of is to get the Coronavirus (COVID-19) under control and listen to the medical experts when it is safe to return to a “relative” normal.

Bottom line — Please Stay at Home

Watch some classic Soccer games on TV or YouTube, read some good soccer books and let the medical professionals and scientists do their jobs so we can get back to a “relative” normal sooner rather than later.

Glory on the Grass

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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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