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Founder, The Sports Court. 14 years old.
The COVID19 disease has impacted every league on planet earth, these leagues include both the USL Championship and USL League One.
The USL Championship suspended operations on March 12, 2020, due to the pandemic, leading to many questions.
When will they resume? Will there be fans? Will there even be a season? When will the title be hoisted?
Well, all of those questions have been answered. The USL Championship announced it’s returning to play on July 11 with the playoffs kicking off on October 10. Fans were socially distanced throughout the league. Some teams had fans in stadiums, others did not, all dependent upon state regulations. The season looked promising as if the fans who waited so long to watch their favorite teams and players play could see the USL Championship trophy lifted on National Television.
After several months of play, the title game was set, the Tampa Bay Rowdies versus Phoenix Rising FC at Casino Arizona Field in Phoenix, televised nationally on ESPN.
Anticipation grew bigger for the game with every passing second. Phoenix, arguably the best USL team of all-time, could finally win the championship they’ve been waiting so long for, meanwhile, Tampa Bay could bring home the second championship to the city during this quarantine as the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup on September 28.
American soccer Twitter went into a frenzy after the league announced the game was set to be on ESPN in front of a national audience.
Everything seemed to be going just as planned, as smoothly as a freshly paved road.
But then, the bad-luck associated with 2020 hit the USL Championship and hit it hard.
Several Tampa Bay Rowdies players tested positive for COVID-19. The game was immediately postponed, at least many had assumed.
Instead, the final result of a long, tough, gritty 2020 USL Championship season was - no result.
Phoenix went home with a Western Conference Championship, Tampa Bay did so with the Eastern Conference Championship, but neither of these teams walked away with the league trophy they both desperately wanted.
It’s as if both teams went through the buildup for Christmas, the shopping, the caroling, the sleigh-riding, but when December 25 arrived, there was no Christmas, everything disappeared.
I see this as a very tough spot for the USL.
I understand that three Rowdies players tested positive, however, if everyone else tested negative why can’t the three who did test positive not travel with the team while everybody else goes to Phoenix and battle it out for the title?
I feel very bad for all of the players in this situation. It’s a lose-lose scenario. 2020 strikes again, and it strikes on both the USL Championship and USL League One which I will get to now.
USL League One also canceled?!
Before the drama with the USL Championship happened, the Greenville Triumph and Omaha Union were supposed to battle it out for the second-ever USL League One trophy.
Supposed to battle it out.
A few days before the game, multiple Omaha Union players/staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Thus, USL League One canceled the title game, and instead of having no winner at all, USL League One decided to base its winner via points per game tally, and the winner was none other than the team from Greenville, the Triumph.
The Triumph, coached by USMNT legend, John Harkes, also features The Sports Court interviewees, Jake Keegan, Carlos Gomez, and JJ Donnelly, were all a part of the Greenville squad that won the trophy.
Greenville recently hosted it’s ‘championship lift’ as team and staff gathered into their Legacy Early College Field to lift the title they’ve worked the whole season to attain.
In an odd ending, one that will go down in history for being one of the strangest ways to end a season, the Greenville Triumph were victorious and went home as champions of the league.
CHRIS’ OVERALL VIEW
I am disappointed the USL did not find a way to postpone the games or make this safe as possible to do now.
Whether that be having all the negative-tested players, play, or postponing the game, as mentioned previously. I believe that the USL could’ve found a way to make this work.
However, with that being said, COVID-19 is very dangerous and liabilities are at risk, so I do understand (from a business perspective) where the USL is coming from.
Of course, it does hurt to not go in front of national television, but the USL would rather have that than something much worse due to COVID-19.
Overall, I have mixed emotions right now. I feel for everybody involved in this. Certainly not a way a season should end.
Props to Greenville for winning USL League One, and to Union Omaha, Phoenix Rising, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, for all great seasons!
Omaha, as a new expansion club, took the league by storm. Phoenix Rising, led by Solomon Asante, played great football from day one. The Tampa Bay Rowdies, a club that has a deep backstory, defied all odds and won the Eastern Conference.
Congrats to everybody, and with that being said,
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All Editorials written by Chris Dailey