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NWSL clubs address preseason cancellation due to coronavirus

The clubs are in agreement with the league’s decision as the season’s April 18 start date approaches

The new 2020 NWSL game ball sits on the stage at the league's college draft in Baltimore on Jan. 16, 2020. (Mitchell Northam / Pro Soccer USA)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Women’s Soccer League canceled preseason matches, which were scheduled to take place over the next month.

As a result, the NWSL’s nine clubs and other high-profile organizations have been following up their own statements of their own in support of the league’s decision. The clubs have also shared specific information about which events have been called off, including open training sessions as well as matches. The 2020 season is still scheduled to begin Saturday, April 18.

Those statements are below, and this piece will be updated as needed.

Houston Dash

“Scheduled scrimmages with the University of Texas on March 14, the Dynamo Academy on March 25, Texas Tech on March 28 and Southern Methodist on April 5 have been cancelled,” the statement read. “The team will continue prepare for the 2020 NWSL season that starts in late April. 

“The Dash, along with the Houston Dynamo, have remained in daily communication with the leadership of both leagues as well as with local and regional health authorities and government officials.”

North Carolina Courage

The club has not yet issued a statement, but general manager Curt Johnson said on WCMC-FM that teams will continue preseason training and hope the season begins as scheduled.

The Courage have not responded to requests for comment from Pro Soccer USA at this time.

OL Reign

The Reign was one of the team’s set to participate in the Thorns’ preseason tournament, which has since been canceled.

“OL Reign will continue its preseason training in Tacoma in preparation for the upcoming 2020 NWSL season, which is slated to begin on April 18 with a match against the Washington Spirit,” the statement said.

“In an effort to ensure the safest possible environment for OL Reign players and technical staff, until further notice, all training sessions will be closed to media, and access to training facilities will be limited to essential personnel.”

Orlando Pride

The team repeated chief executive officer Alex Leitão’s statement after the MLS season was suspended, with player and staff priority a top concern.

“In addition, access to all of the Club’s facilities – including Exploria Stadium, the Orlando City SC Training Ground and the Orlando Pride Training Ground – will be limited to only essential employees until further notice,” the Pride statement read.

The team also reiterated that the NWSL season is still scheduled to start on time.

Portland Thorns FC

After Major League Soccer suspended the league for 30 days, the Thorns announced its preseason tournament was canceled in compliance with a mandate by the governor of Oregon.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our fans,” the statement about both the Portland Timbers and Thorns read. “Throughout the process, we have worked in tandem with local health authorities to help keep our fans, staff, players and community safe from the spread of COVID-19.

“Additionally, in accordance with today’s mandate by the State of Oregon to cancel public gatherings of more than 250 people, we have canceled the Portland Thorns FC preseason tournament, scheduled to take place from March 29-April 4.

The status of future matches for both clubs will be determined at a later date in conjunction with Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, public health authorities and government agencies.

Tickets purchased for postponed events are good for the new date of the match. With regard to canceled games, the Timbers and Thorns FC will reach out to fans with next steps.”

Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue announced this week a preseason trip to North Carolina which would end with the team playing against the league’s reigning champions, the North Carolina Courage. However, plans have since been canceled.

“In support of this decision and in an effort to keep our fans, staff, players and community safe,” the club wrote, “Sky Blue FC will be suspending the following preseason events, including the scheduled preseason trip to North Carolina that was to take place from March 31 – April 6:

  • Wednesday, March 18 – Cloud 9 Members Only event
  • Saturday, March 28 – Sky Blue FC Season Ticket Member Open Training
  • Wednesday, April 1 – Sky Blue FC vs. University of North Carolina
  • Saturday, April 4 – Sky Blue FC vs. University of Virginia
  • Sunday, April 5 – Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage”

Utah Royals FC

Royals and Real Salt Lake chief business officer Andy Carroll addressed the fans in a letter less than an hour before NWSL confirmed its news, and after MLS suspended the season.

“As the NWSL season start is planned for April 18, no decisions regarding that schedule have been made as I write this note,” Carroll said. “As present, no games in any of the leagues have been canceled. If the duration of the suspension is fairly short, we are optimistic that we can reschedule any games.  We are diligently working and coordinating with all of our leagues to get information out to our staff, fans and partners as soon as possible.

“If you have additional questions please reach out to our ticketing department, who are available Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, at 844-REAL-TIX or email fanrelations@rsl.com.”

NWSL Players Association

“The NWSL Players Association is working closely with NWSL to continue to ensure that player and staff safety is top priority,” the organization wrote. “We are in constant communication with the League and players to continue to work towards providing support and direction through this difficult time period. To all the NWSL staff, players, and fans: we encourage you to take necessary precautions to remain safe.”

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