Sacramento Republic FC will not win the 2020 USL Championship. Neither will anybody else.
That’s because the final, scheduled for Sunday, was cancelled on Saturday because there was a coronavirus outbreak on the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the hosting finalist. Instead of trying to wait out the outbreak, and try and play the final against Phoenix Rising FC in a few weeks, the league opted to end the season with no overall title winner.
Remarkably, it’s the second time this week this exact scenario happened, with the USL League One final between Greenville Triumph SC and Union Omaha scheduled for this weekend cancelled as well because Omaha had an untimely coronavirus outbreak. In USL League One’s case, a single table and Greenville’s lead in the standings in the season made it more justifiable for them to be awarded winners of the league, which they were. In the case of the USL Championship, by contrast, the sheer size of the league and the inability of teams to play each other throughout the season and have a single table means any apples to apples comparison of teams is impossible, absent a head-to-head match.
And the alternative scenario, where Phoenix would win the title by virtue of not catching coronavirus at the wrong time, is absolutely not satisfactory. In normal times it would be weird, but with Phoenix getting a forfeit win when their star player used a gay slur at a gay player heading into the playoffs, then winning their first playoff game against Sacramento Republic through a handball goal, then winning the title for not having an outbreak would be pretty unfair.
Having said all that, while there is a certain justice of there not being a winner declared under the circumstances, a friend also made a fantastic point in the context of this: There was a ton of sacrifice by everyone involved to even put on the USL Championship season this year, and a lot of people involved with the league lost their jobs, temporarily or for good, this season, and in the end there was no champion crowned. It’s both fitting but also tragic.
So ends the weirdest season in USL Championship history. May we have many more seasons but never one as strange as this one ever again.
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