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Life Without Soccer: News and Updates for Saturday, March 21

Every day MLS, the NWSL and the USL are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pro Soccer USA will provide the latest news and updates, examples of what the soccer community is doing to pass time and some recommendations for readers to keep busy while hunkering down at home.

The Latest

The National Women’s Soccer League is one of the latest league to postpone training and games due to concerns stemming from the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The NWSL extended its training moratorium through April 5. Subsequently, the 2020 season will not start on April 18 as previously planned.

At this time, NWSL has not set a new date for the start of the season. The Centers for Disease Control guidelines, released on March 15, suggested that all gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks be postponed or canceled. Continuing to follow CDC guidelines would mean that NWSL could start no earlier than May 10, which is a measure that Major League Soccer has already taken. 

In addition to suspending league play through early May, MLS announced an extension of its training moratorium through Friday, March 27. Team training facilities are only open to club medical staff and players who need specific physical therapy.

Around the U.S. and world, soccer is continuing to trickle to a standstill. United Soccer League Championship and League One clubs will not be able to train through Sunday, April 5. This followed the announcement that league play would not resume prior to May 10.

The Women’s Premier Soccer League, the world’s largest women’s league with 130 clubs, also delayed the start date of its 23rd season by nearly three weeks. WPSL pushed its original May 9 start back to May 29.

The U.S. and Canada agreed to an unprecedented temporary closure their shared border to nonessential travel in response to the spreading of COVID-19. Similar to clubs in the U.S., the Canadian Premier League postponed the start of its season. The CPL season was scheduled to start on April 11. Commissioner David Clanachan did not specify when the league would potentially resume in his statement released Friday. 

“We will continue to work with all of those authorities in order to make a decision on when to begin our 2020 season when it is declared safe by the relevant health and government agencies, including our governing body Canada Soccer,” Clanachan said. 

While trainings are on hold, Portland Timbers’ coach Giovanni Savarese said that his staff is being as creative as possible to keep players physically fit. 

On a conference call Friday, Savarese shared with reporters how the team is dealing with changing outlooks and influx training conditions. 

“There’s many different things that we’re trying to do,” Savarese said. “The strength and conditioning group put together a workout plan for everyone, to make sure that they do this at home. They give a report constantly every day of the work that they are doing. … A group of videos that will be sent to players so that they can start also taking their time analyzing and watching some things that we’ve been working on.”

The Portland coach also expressed his solidarity with the rest of the world during the coronavirus pandemic and shared his thoughts about what might be next. 

“When that time comes, we will have to do a lot of reflection and understand what we went through because we can’t move forward if we don’t understand how difficult this time has been for many people, for those that have been very much affected,” Savarese said. “I don’t think it will be ever the same because going through a moment like this, it changes all of us.”

Without games, some teams around the world are struggling financial. Former New England Revolution midfielder Xavier Kouassi was let go from his Swiss league club, FC Sion, as the Swiss team deals with its financial dilemma.

Kouassi, along with ten of his teammates, were let go in the midst of the Swiss Super League’s indefinite stoppage of games. Players had refused to sign a wage cut agreement during the suspension, according the Sky Sports

Around Town

Early-risers watched Melbourne City claim the Australian W-League trophy in the last live soccer game for the foreseeable future. OL Reign defender Steph Catley scored the lone goal to seal the 1-0 victory for Melbourne over Sydney FC.

The 2020 W-League title makes Melbourne City the winningest club in league history.

The championship included nine players from six different NWSL teams, including Catley. 

Ellie Carpenter (Portland Thorns), Ally Watt (North Carolina Courage), Steph Catley (OL Reign), Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride) and Claire Emslie (Orlando Pride) play for Melbourne City, while Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Veronica Latsko (Houston Dash) and Sofia Huerta (OL Reign) represent the Sydney side.

When approaching the podium to receive her award for Player of the Grand Final, Catley made sure to follow World Health Organization guidelines for limiting contact with others. 

During this time without soccer, players and teams are giving back to their affected communities. United States Men’s National Team players Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston Mckennie collaborated to support Feeding America, an organization that feeds America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank’s foundation will donate nearly $5.4 million in funding for immediate and long-term recovery assistance to organizations providing support in Georgia and Montana in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Arthur M. Blank Foundation will grant $5 million in Atlanta to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, $100,000 to Hands On Atlanta and another $100,000 to the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Additionally, the foundation is giving $50,000 to Hopa Mountain in Montana to help the immediate needs of the Native American and Latino communities and $50,000 to aid winter care centers for the homeless in Montana where Blank owns a ranch.

“As a family foundation we have always believed that it is the power of many that will make the greatest impact on the most pressing issues in our society,” Blank said in a statement. “This is that moment — to join together to truly harness the power of all of us to address a challenge that knows no boundaries and has no precedent in our lifetimes.”

 Around the world players are staying home and wishing wellness to others. Former MLS superstar Freddy Adu made a rare appearance on Twitter to share a vintage photo of himself from a MLS All-Star break along with a message of hope. 

Keeping Busy

The Australian W-League final maybe one of the last few live soccer games for the foreseeable future, but NBCSN is offering features on players, including currently Montreal Impact coach Thierry Henry, and English Premier League season goal highlights all weekend long. 

If you want to get out of the house in the limited capacity recommended by the CDC, SiriusXM FC is replaying the best games from the start of the 2019/20 EPL season. Subscribers can listen on connected devices or on the app on SiriusXM FC, channel 157. 

Another way teams have shared games while practicing social distancing is through gaming. Those who miss live soccer can watch a simulated version of New England Revolution against Real Salt Lake via EA Sports FIFA video game on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. 

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