TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League announced Saturday that the 2020 USL Championship final scheduled for Sunday will not be played due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The USL was forced to cancel its second championship game this week as the League One final between Greenville Triumph FC and Union Omaha was wiped out because of a COVID outbreak on the latter team. Greenville was declared champions based on its regular season record.
USL HQ, in collaboration with the Rowdies and Phoenix Rising FC, determined that the season will conclude after Tampa Bay and Phoenix progressed through their conference playoffs to win the Eastern Conference and Western Conference titles, respectively, last Saturday.
“First and foremost, we want to applaud these two teams on an incredible season,” USL president Jake Edwards said in a statement. “They deserved the opportunity to play for the USL Championship final trophy and we are disappointed that we won’t be able to watch them on Sunday night. With that said, we want to thank all of our clubs, our supporters, our players and our staff for all of their time, hard work and energy this season. We’ve grown closer under difficult circumstances and we can’t wait to be back together again soon.”
According to a league press, the decision was made for the health and safety of everyone involved after multiple persons on the Rowdies covered persons list tested positive for COVID-19 after a second round of rapid testing on Saturday morning at the Tampa Bay Rays’ medical facilities.
The affected individuals immediately were isolated at home and were recovering in good spirits under the care of team physicians and infectious disease experts. All league, local and state health and wellness protocols continue to be followed, USL officials said.
USL HQ, the Tampa Bay and Phoenix will explore the possibility of a season kickoff mame between the two clubs prior to the start of the 2021 Championship season.
“While we are disappointed that the Championship and League One Finals have been cancelled, we understand and appreciate the decision to put player health and wellness first,” the USL Players Association Executive Committee said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing all our players back in action at the start of next season.