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NWSL cancels preseason matches due to coronavirus pandemic

National Women’s Soccer League has not announced any changes to season openers currently scheduled for April

The North Carolina Courage celebrate with the trophy after defeating the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 to win the 2019 NWSL Championship at WakeMed Soccer Park on October 27, 2019 in Cary, North Carolina. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The National Women’s Soccer League canceled its preseason matches ahead of its eighth season amid concerns about further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league has not announced any changes to its scheduled season openers in April.

NWSL officials made the call after MLS and USL — along with other prominent American sports leagues such as the NBA and MLB — announced 30-day suspensions of league play on Thursday morning in response to the disease COVID-19 caused by the new coronavirus. These decisions were made as U.S. officials continue working to limit large gatherings throughout the country with the hope of spreading out how the pandemic impacts Americans and avoiding overloading the healthcare system.

“Our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our players, coaches, staff and fans,” new NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “We are reviewing all contingency plans related to our regular season schedule and are monitoring developing events and their potential impact. We are deeply appreciative of our fans and partners for their continued support of our league and all our world-class players.”

A wave of action swept across sports leagues in the United States and Canada after Wednesday night, when a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus and forced the immediate suspension of the league’s regular season. The NHL followed suit on Thursday, and the NCAA announced the complete cancellation of its Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments on Thursday.

Soccer leagues around the world have made moves to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Italian Serie A suspended play until April 3 as the country scrambles to contain the pandemic, with a death toll climbing past 1,000. Other leagues throughout Italy, France and Portugal are continuing to play closed-door games. 

As a fledgling league still trying to land sponsors, the suspension of play could hit the NWSL harder than other pro leagues throughout the U.S. 

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