The National Women's Soccer League announced Wednesday its plan to return to the field in 2020 with the NWSL Challenge Cup that will take place from June 27 to July 26 in Utah. All nine clubs will participate in a 25-game tournament that will be held, without fans, at facilities used by the NWSL's Utah Royals and MLS's Real Salt Lake.
Every team will play in a preliminary group round with eight teams advancing to a knockout round after that. The semifinals and final will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of Real Salt Lake.
The tournament opener and final will air on CBS, and this is expected to precede a regular season beginning towards the end of the summer, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Chavez, although nothing has been announced yet.
The NWSL released its full list of protocols in its return to play plan, and it included conducting testing, temperature readings and symptom reviews throughout the duration of play in Utah.
While many leagues, like Major League Baseball, are struggling to come to an agreement on payment, the NWSL has guaranteed contracts for all of its players.
The U.S. Women's National team has expressed its support for the return to action, but it seems some players from the team will not be competing in the tournament. Alex Morgan, who just had a child, likely will not be competing, while goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris wasn't a fan of the tournament before it was announced.
The league didn't specify whether or not the tournament will be mandatory, but it would seem odd to force players to compete amid the coronavirus pandemic.