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Scott G Winterton, KSL

NWSL, Utah Royals FC indefinitely suspend start of 2020 season

By Sean Walker, | Updated - Mar. 20, 2020 at 6:50 p.m. | Posted - Mar. 20, 2020 at 5:21 p.m.

SANDY — First came Major League Soccer, and with it Real Salt Lake, filing a delay that is now at least eight weeks in length.

Then came USL Championship, and with it Real Monarchs.

Now the National Women’s Soccer League, and with it Utah Royals FC, is suspending its own season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league announced in a statement Friday the indefinite suspension of the NWSL schedule, which was originally set to open April 18.

No timetable has been set for the start, but the NWSL did extend a moratorium on all training sessions through at least Sunday, April 5.

“We are considering all possible implications for the preseason and regular season schedules while prioritizing the health and safety of our players, staff and fans,” read the league’s statement.

Also Friday, the Women's Premier Soccer League — the largest soccer league in the world with 130 clubs, including the Utah Royals FC Reserves — announced it was delaying the start of its own season. Originally scheduled to open May 9, the WPSL moved 82 matches to accomodate a new May 28 opening weekend, and subsequently canceled the league's championship weekend with the move.

Instead, 22 conference champions will be recognized at the end of the season.

“The WPSL’s goal remains to provide a platform for talented female players to train and compete at an elite level during the summer months,” WPSL President Sean Jones said in a statement from the league. “I am sad that the WPSL Championship, our marquee event, won’t take place this season, yet extending the regular season allows us have our clubs offer a full match schedule to their players.”

URFC Reserves were originally scheduled to open the season May 16 against the Utah Red Devils at Summit Academy High School in Bluffdale.

After already canceling preseason matches against USC and the University of Utah, Utah Royals FC and first-year head coach Craig Harrington were scheduled to kick off the 2020 season Saturday, April 18, against former captain Becky Sauerbrunn and the Portland Thorns.

The club’s home opener was originally scheduled for Friday, April 24, against the Orlando Pride.

Major League Soccer, which was 2-3 games into its season, has set a target date for its return at May 10.

Sean Walker

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