The GIST: Before any of the men’s pro leagues will see sports action, the women will get to show them how it’s done. Classic. The NWSL is planning a month-long tournament to kick-start the regular season and we can hardly wait.
Yes! When? Where? How?: They’ll start with an Olympic-style group stage format on June 27th with each of the league’s nine teams playing four games. Then the top eight teams will move on to a knockout round to determine the NWSL Challenge Cup champions.
- All 25 games will be played between two spectator-less stadiums right outside Salt Lake City, Utah, (home to Utah Royals FC) where lockdown restrictions have eased. The players will be flown in on chartered planes, housed in two nearby hotels, tested regularly and have to follow a slew of safety rules.
And this is for sure happening?: Well…the plan is somewhat ambitious and completely dependent on a couple of things. For one, Salt Lake City will need to stay safe and open. If the city or state sees any major outbreaks, they could limit large gatherings (and with 22 players on the field at once, we’d say that’s a large gathering).
- Most importantly, the players will have to want to play. This could be hard because, on top of COVID-19, many players are concerned with playing most games on artificial turf, an injury-prone surface that women’s national teams everywhere have been fighting against for years. The players have the ability to opt out, and TBH, we wouldn’t fault anyone who chooses to.