NWSL Planning For June 29 Return, Knockout-Style Tournament
The NWSL season could "begin on June 29th," though it is not entirely clear whether the league's nine teams "would be gathered in a single group as usual or split into smaller ones," according to internal documents obtained by Linehan & Maurer of THE ATHLETIC. Each team "would play four group stage games; after the conclusion of group play, only the last-place team would be eliminated, at which point the remaining eight would advance into a knockout-style competition." The knockout tournament "would begin on Sunday, July 19th and conclude on the 28th of that month." The NWSL is "eyeing a pair of venues for the competition: Zions Bank Stadium, which it will use for preseason, the group stage and quarterfinals, and Rio Tinto Stadium, which it will use for the semifinals and final." The "general consensus with stakeholders" in the league is that the NWSL is "not in explicit danger of shuttering if no games take place in 2020, though certain clubs may face a greater risk of surviving into 2021." State officials in Utah have "already given the green light for the tournament, as has a medical task force assembled by the league." It is still "unclear if the players have formally agreed to play in the proposed tournament," but the NWSLPA has been "working in the meantime to get a better understanding of player sentiment and willingness to play" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/25).