Rowdies’ season halted due to coronavirus outbreak

The United Soccer League is suspending its season for a minimum of 30 days.
Ralph's Mob and other fans will have to wait a bit before cheering on the Rowdies at home.
Ralph's Mob and other fans will have to wait a bit before cheering on the Rowdies at home. [ Times (2019) ]
Published March 12, 2020|Updated March 12, 2020

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ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ season was just getting started. They played their first regular-season game just last weekend, and their home opener at Al Lang Field was slated for March 21. But amid fears that holding games could greater spread coronavirus, the team’s season will temporarily be halted.

The United Soccer League followed suit with other professional sports leagues across the country Thursday, suspending games for a minimum of 30 days, effective immediately.

“It was very clear from our owners that the health and safety of players, fans and staff was their top priority,” USL chief executive officer Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “In consultation with local, state and national health authorities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security, we have temporarily suspended match play for a minimum of 30 days.”

The league will provide updates on the continuation of the season when appropriate, a release said. The announcement came shortly after Major League Soccer announced it was suspending play for 30 days.

The Rowdies, who won their season opener, were scheduled to play at Miami FC on Friday night. The earliest the season will resume is April 11 at Miami.

The USL made the announcement after the NBA suspended play following Jazz player Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus on Wednesday. Major college basketball conferences then canceled their tournaments on Thursday, and leagues like the NHL and ATP also have suspended play.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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