With the spread of COVID-19 still increasing by the day, the National Women’s Soccer League has announced an extension of its suspension of all preseason training. Teams will be allowed to resume training no earlier than April 6. Given that this would leave less than two weeks to prepare for the scheduled start of the season, the NWSL has also announced that the planned opening day set of games on April 18 will be postponed.
A league statement distributed by email added the following:
The NWSL remains in close contact with its clubs, local and state health agencies, and the NWSL medical task force, and will continue to follow guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this continually evolving situation.
The postponement is most certainly bad news for the Washington Spirit, who were set to host OL Reign at Audi Field in what was to be the very first game of the 2020 season. Aside from the obvious problem of trying to reschedule the game (particularly on Buzzard Point, where D.C. United will also be having multiple games to reschedule thanks to MLS’s own suspension of play), this was to be a major occasion for both the club and the league. The Spirit had been talking about a potential sell-out, and the NWSL was going to broadcast the game on CBS.
The other games originally planned for that weekend were the Chicago Red Stars hosting the North Carolina Courage (a 2019 NWSL Championship rematch) and the Portland Thorns hosting Utah Royals FC on April 18, and the Orlando Pride hosting Sky Blue FC on April 19.
As with so many things in soccer and in general during this pandemic, it is unclear when these games will be rescheduled. NWSL clubs had only barely started their preseasons when the league initially announced their moratorium on training on March 12.
The NWSL follows the USL and MLS, who have both announced that they will postpone all games until mid-May.