The National Women’s Soccer League has plans to hold a nearly month-long tournament in Utah this summer, according to the Washington Post and Salt Lake Tribune, and an official announcement could reportedly happen as soon as later this week.
Per the Salt Lake Tribune, the tournament will run from June 29 to around July 22 and be played at two stadiums, the homes of NWSL's Utah Royals FC, MLS's Real Salt Lake and USL Championship's Real Monarchs.
According to the Washington Post, the league has asked its nine teams to submit rosters and essential staff who would travel to the event. Once there, participants would remain in a “controlled environment" and undergo regular testing.
In terms of the competition, the nine teams would reportedly be split into three groups of three, with eight of the nine advancing to a knockout stage. This tournament would precede a regular-season format that would occur later in the year.
Per the Post, few, if any, spectators would be allowed to attend the games and CBS is expected to broadcast the competition on its platforms. One of the potential hangups is that not all U.S. women's national team players are on board, according to the Post.
On March 11, the NWSL announced a landmark deal with CBS that, for the first time, would air games on network TV. And the season was initially scheduled to begin April 18 but was delayed as a result of the pandemic. With the league hoping to capitalize on the buzz generated by the USA's 2019 Women's World Cup triumph, the shutdown brought about an unexpected challenge for a league that is no stranger to adversity.
"The NWSL was going to be entering its eighth season of operating but is still very much in its infancy,” Amanda Duffy, the former NWSL president who is now executive vice president of the Orlando Pride told Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein. “We haven’t moved out of that stage of making every single decision related to keeping the league in business.”
Things could move fast for this competition, with the Tribune reporting that OL Reign, Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars are slated to arrive in Utah early next week.