The Coronavirus outbreak has started to make inroads on several professional soccer matches in the United States.
In Major League Soccer, Seattle Sounders FC Wednesday postponed its March 21 home match against FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field.
In the USL Championship, the Tacoma Defiance-San Diego Loyal game on Wednesday night will be played behind closed doors and that it postponed a March 22 match , and Hartford Athletic has called off two contests in the coming weeks.
Seattle Sounders FC
The MLS club decided to heed Washington Governor Inslee’s call to postpone its March 23 home game due to an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 in the state. The game will be rescheduled at a future date.
“Throughout this process, Sounders FC has stated that nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans,” Sounders FC management said in a statement. “With that in mind, we respect the difficult decision that has been made today, and our club will continue following the guidelines set forth by our public health authorities and government agencies. We will maintain our consistent dialogue with elected leadership, public health officials and Major League Soccer.”
In a press release, FC Dallas responded to the postponement.
“We respect the decision of Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the Seattle Sounders FC to postpone our road match,” a statement said.
“We know developments surrounding COVID-19 are evolving and understand the need to be flexible. As an organization, we are taking our own proactive measures with our fans, players and staff to ensure their health and safety. We are in ongoing communication with our team medical staff, public health officials and Major League Soccer to follow and execute the guidelines put in place.”
In wake of the decision, the Tacoma-SD Loyal game will be available to fans via ESPN+ with kickoff scheduled for 10 p.m. ET at Cheney Stadium.
“With San Diego Loyal’s squad already in town to play the contest, we have been in touch with the United Soccer League, regional government agencies and health authorities about the best path forward,” the club said in a statement.
“We fully support Governor Islee’s announcement and will comply with all recommendations from local health authorities as they develop,” SD Loyal President Warren Smith said. “We take our responsibility to San Diego very seriously and will continue to take all appropriate precautions for the safety of our players, staff and community.”
The Defiance also announced its home match on Sunday, March 22 against OKC Energy FC has been called off and will be rescheduled for a later date.
Later in the day, SD Loyal announced that the club’s home match on Saturday, March 14 vs. Rio Grande Valley FC will be rescheduled to Wednesday, July 29. Tickets to the March 14 match will be honored on July 29, the club said.
“Taking care of fans, players and staff is the highest priority at SD Loyal, and the club carefully weighed its options when making the decision to postpone the match,” Smith said. “While we had the option to play without fans in attendance, similar to the match being played tonight against Tacoma Defiance, we felt it was in the best interest of our fans to postpone. SD Loyal is a team of the fans, and we want to do all that we can to ensure they get to see their club play. Amid the concerns over COVID-19, we also want to take all appropriate precautions for the safety of our staff, players and fans. We are grateful to Rio Grande Valley FC for agreeing to reschedule the match, and we look forward to playing them here in July.”
Hartford Athletic announced it had postponed two matches following guidance from local and state health officials. The Athletic’s March 21 game against the Charleston Battery and April 4 encounter against Memphis 901 FC will be moved to a later date.
The United Soccer League said that it has working with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Soccer Federation and other professional sports leagues around the country for weeks to provide up-to-date information on the Coronavirus to its clubs.
In a press release, the league has encouraged its clubs to stay in regular contact with their local and state health departments as well as other local authorities. As the situation evolves, USL will continue to monitor the most recent developments and pass along any and all available information, resources and guidance to clubs, supporters and media as timely as possible.
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