There will be no USL Cup champion in 2020.
A little over 24 hours before the The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Phoenix Rising FC were slated to play for the USL Championship’s title at Al Lang, the league has elected to cancel the match after several Rowdies players tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Sport’s Illustrated’s Brian Straus was the first to report on the cancelation.
Through a statement released online the Rowdies said, “The pandemic has made the 2020 season challenging across all sports, and while we are disappointed, we understand the USL’s decision to cancel the Championship Final and instead crown an Eastern Conference Champion and Western Conference Champion is the best possible outcome for the health and safter of our fans, players and staff.”
USL Championship Final Cancellation Information#TogetherRowdies pic.twitter.com/298fZHNGMY
Playing Sunday’s match was put in doubt on Friday afternoon when it was announced that Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins, Assistant Coach Kevin Foley and an unidentified individual had tested positive for COVID-19. Straus report’s on Saturday noted the third individual was a player. After the initial positive results, everyone in the Rowdies organization was tested using rapid testing at the Tampa Bay Rays medical facility. Those tests on Friday yielded no additional positives. However, follow up testing on Saturday produced several positive results.
Tampa Bay’s entire organization tested negative earlier in the week after the club returned from its trip to Louisville for the Eastern Conference Final. Collins was tested again once he reported mild symptoms for COVID-19 on Thursday.
Some discussions were had about postponing the match, but the two-week quarantine needed after multiple positive test results and other complications killed that notion. As a result the season will end with the Rowdies as Eastern Conference Champions and Phoenix as the Western Conference winners but no club will be awarded the USL Cup.
The Rowdies were set to host in their first ever USL Championship Final appearance this Sunday after knocking off last year’s Eastern Conference winners Louisville City FC. Phoenix was making its second championship final appearance in three seasons.