NWSL to return to action in September
Following the NWSL Challenge Cup which concluded on July 26th with the Houston Dash winning their first ever Championship, the league has announced a fall series. Having led the country as the first league in the U.S. to return to play, the NWSL had zero positive Covid-19 cases during their month long tournament. Now returning for a fall series, the NWSL will kick off on September 5th.
Additional safety protocol will be put into place according to the league's updated fall series protocol. Some of the guidelines include "For travel between markets, teams must either fly or charter two 50+ person motor coaches. Vans are not permitted for travel between markets. F. For bus travel, each person must use the same seat throughout the entirety of the trip. This requirement is to ensure that the appropriate contact tracing may be performed, and that Personnel can be quarantined or subject to additional testing as necessary. G. When traveling by bus for greater than 20 minutes, Personnel shall sit at least six feet apart, except for Roommates who may sit together. Generally, this will mean that there will only be one person or group of Roommates per row, alternating sides by row. If a team can fit members of the traveling party on one bus while still maintaining social distancing, it may do this after applying to the League. The application must include a map of where each person will sit on the bus" the league announced in their competition protocol linked below.
The league also highlights the importance of maintaining safety by minimizing travel for players and staff. Per NWSLsoccer.com, “Following the success of the Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret, there will be a televised NWSL Game of the Week on the CBS Television Network every Saturday in September, and on CBS Sports Network three Saturdays in October. CBS All Access will exclusively stream four games as well as the CBS broadcast coverage in September.The NWSL fall series will include 18 matches over the course of seven weeks, featuring three, three-team pods. Teams within each pod will play one another to enable the league to minimize travel. The full format and schedule for the NWSL fall series will be released in the next week".
The three teams in each regional pod will play four games. The pods are:
Portland Thorns FC
Utah Royals FC
Chicago Red Stars
Sky Blue FC
North Carolina Courage
The NWSL fall series will kick off on Saturday, September 5th and will conclude on Saturday, October 17th, 2020.