HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The National Women’s Soccer League is coming back next month, and it will make its return at the home of the Utah Royals.
The NWSL announced today that the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented will mark the return to action for all nine clubs in the league. The 25-game tournament will kick off on June 27, 2020 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, with the tournament semifinals and final played at Rio Tinto Stadium.
While fans will not be in attendance, all games will be streamed live, and the championship game will be televised.
“We’re really excited,” Royals head coach Craig Harrington said. “It’s obviously an NWSL tournament, but it’s being hosted here in Utah. It’s a chance for our club to show off. It’s a super club – with the facilities, with the infrastructure, with the quality of people we have behind the scenes and also working on the day-to-day soccer operations level. We’ve been fortunate within the state that we’ve been less hit than other places have. We’re really excited to welcome everybody and be able to host all these world class players coming into market and put on games that hopefully the rest of the world will get some enjoyment from.”
“I’m so excited to have this competition in my own backyard,” added Royals captain Amy Rodriguez. “I’ve known firsthand that we’ve had the best facilities in the league and I think we’re excited to show those off to people. We’re hoping to provide a safe, comfortable environment for all of the players to come into this market and I’m really looking forward to it and showing off what Utah has to offer.”
The nine NWSL teams will train at the Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman and America First Credit Union Field in Sandy.
The 2020 season, which was slated to begin in April, never kicked off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” said NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird. “This exciting month-long tournament will showcase our league’s talented players and provide our fans the type of world-class entertainment they’ve come to expect from the NWSL.”
The format of the tournament will feature the league’s nine clubs each playing four games in the preliminary rounds to determine seeding. The top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals, when the tournament becomes a knockout competition. The semifinals will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah with the Championship match slated for July 26th.
Utah Royals owner Dell Loy Hansen will accommodate all housing, training and competition needs for the league’s nine teams and create an “NWSL Village” to control as much of the environment as possible.
The NWSL’s Medical Task Force, in coordination with public health officials, to develop thorough and detailed medical and testing protocols to ensure the safest environment for a return to play and competition. Each player, official and essential staff member will be tested 48 hours prior to departure for Utah and upon arrival and will be subject to consistent testing, temperature readings and symptom review throughout their stay in Utah.
“With the efforts of our frontline workers, our state’s early adoption of preventative measures, and our facilities at Zions Bank Real Academy, Rio Tinto Stadium and America First Credit Union Field, Utah is uniquely prepared to host the nine teams in the NWSL and put on a tremendous tournament,” Hansen said. “With the full support of the Governor and the medical experts in our community, we are thrilled to bring the tournament to Utah.”