Pro soccer returns to the U.S. next month when the National Women's Soccer League starts a 25-game tournament in a pair of stadiums in Utah that will be kept clear of fans to protect players from the coronavirus.
Players from the nine teams will train and live at two Salt Lake City-area hotels, the league announced Wednesday. All players will be tested for COVID-19 before leaving for Utah, and then will be regularly screened during their monthlong stay.
No fans will be allowed into the Zions Bank or Rio Tinto stadiums, two suburban Salt Lake City venues that will play host to the action.
The tournament begins June 27, with games to be televised and streamed by CBS and its online and broadcast affiliates. It's a boon for a league that was looking for a new TV partner in the wake of the U.S. women's victory in the World Cup last year and now finds itself on the front end of American leagues returning and offering live sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The league's biggest draw, World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, is under contract with Reign FC. The league gave no indication of whether she or other national team players would participate.
The U.S. Women's National Team Players Association confirmed in a statement that players could opt out of the tournament. The union said it “will provide support to each player in whatever decision she makes.”
Bishop Dwenger and UCLA graduate Sarah (Killion) Woldmoe plays for Sky Blue FC based in Harrison, New Jersey.
EPL teams approve contact training
The Premier League is on course to restart next month after clubs approved plans to resume contact training even as some players are concerned about taking to the field again during the coronavirus pandemic.
The vote by the 20 clubs came after gaining clearance from the government for players to work together as a squad as restrictions are eased across England.
Players and staff members at clubs are being checked twice a week for COVID-19. Four people from three clubs tested positive from tests on 1,008 players and staff on Monday and Tuesday.
The clubs will hold another conference call today to discuss plans to resume the season in the second half of June, including the scheduling of games that will all be closed to fans. The location of matches is still to be resolved after clubs rejected proposals for all fixtures to be played in neutral venues.