The USL announced Wednesday the format for the upcoming restart of the 2020 USL Championship regular season. Headlining that announcement, teams will play a 16-game regular season schedule, with most of those games coming inside regional group play.
Teams like Sacramento Republic FC will be put into a group of either four or five teams, lumped regionally, with 15 games left to play for SRFC over 13 weeks. 12 games will be within the group, while the remaining three games will come from teams outside the group who are still relatively close regionally.
The top two finishers from each group will qualify for the playoffs this season, which will be a 16-team regionalized bracket, single-elimination games as per usual in the league.
Teams will attempt to play a balanced home-and-away schedule, but in cases where local restrictions prevent a game from taking place in a home venue, the venue may be moved, presumably to the other team’s home. If neither venue is available, it’s unclear if the league has a backup plan.
Notably, the league’s health and safety protocol for reopening from the coronavirus shutdown includes considerable directions on how to conduct matchday operations with fans in the stadium, contingent on local regulations. That means if a local health department allows some proportion of fans to attend a game, then teams can let in a proportion of paying supporters to watch games in person while also observing heightened health and hygiene standards. It is unclear if Sac Republic will have fans in attendance at any games this season or not, but the door is open to the possibility on the league front.
The league will announce the group assignments on Thursday and Friday. It’s not clear if the modified schedule will also drop, but with the games set to start soon, a schedule would have to come out pretty soon regardless. We’ll keep you posted on SRFC’s group and schedule when we find it out.
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