USL season restart
Photo Credit: USL

USL 2020 Season Restart Format Announced.

Over the past few weeks fans have gotten excited about the announcement of various professional sport leagues planning to return in 2020. Although most of the national attention was drawn to the MLB finally coming to an agreement with their Players Association, the USL Championship also announced their plans to restart their season.


Photo Credit: Lights FC

Despite being a semi-professional soccer league, it is a big deal here in Las Vegas because that means that the Las Vegas Lights FC will get to give the hometown crowd a team to look forward to in these times of the pandemic. With the Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Aviators still not in action, and the Raiders still in the off-season, the Lights will be the lone team in action for the city.

The USL Championship announced that the format for their restart would consist of all 35 member clubs divided into eight different regional groups. Every club will play a total of 16 regular season matches, followed by a single-elimination playoff to decide the champions.

In the regular season, there will be five groups made up of four teams and three groups made up of five teams. The length of the regular season will transpire through 13 weeks, ultimately ending over the weekend of October 2-4.

Birmingham Legion FC, Hartford Athletic, and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC are the three clubs who have yet to have a match this season. As for the other 32 clubs, the games they played in before the season coming to a halt, will still count and be included in their 16 regular season matches.


Each club will play 12 matches against other clubs in their respective groups, leaving the remaining four matches to be played against clubs that fall within a similar geographic region. Clubs in four-team groups will play each other four times, while clubs in a five-team group will play each other three times.


Photo Credit: Soccer Stadium Digest

Each club is initially scheduled to play a balanced of eight home and away matches, respectively. However, that could change if a club is experiencing difficulties with venue availability due to the impact of the coronavirus in their respective communities.

The USL Championship also announced that they would allow each club to use five substitutes for the remainder of the season. Each club will have three opportunities to make their substitutions during regular play. Changes will be allowed at halftime, without counting against a club’s three in-game chances.

At the end of the regular season, the top two teams from each group will advance to the playoffs. The single-elimination playoff bracket will consist of 16 squads. Group winners will be matched up against group runner-ups in the Round of 16. Home-field advantage will be given to the club with the better record for the remainder of the bracket.


Las Vegas Lights FC found themsleves in Group B, alongside: Phoenix Rising FC, LA Galaxy II, Orange County SC, and San Diego Loyal SC.


lights fc
Photo Credit: Lights FC

Already heading into the restart, Lights FC will start near the bottom of the group alongside Orange County SC, both with only one point. Just ahead of them, is Phoenix Rising and Galaxy II with three points. At the top of the group is the newcomer Loyal SC, with four points. With already starting near the bottom and Phoenix Rising being the defending Regular Season Title-holder, Las Vegas will have an uphill battle if they plan to get into the playoffs.

There was some optimism for the Lights FC heading into its third year of existence to finally make a playoff appearance, especially after a promising performance in their lone match this season. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Loyal SC, who was playing in their inaugural match as part of the USL Championship and managed by US Men’s Soccer legend Landon Donovan.

However, all of that hope came crashing down with uncertainty last week when Lights FC owner Brett Lashbrook announced the firing of manager Eric Wynalda. Besides the initial statements, there has still not been an announcement of the reasoning for Wynalda’s firing. A few days ago, on his Twitter, a fan asked Wynalda why of his sudden departure, and Wynalda simply answered that he was too waiting for an answer and reason himself.


As of this writing, the Lights still have the managing position vacant and have yet to make any announcements for a replacement or of any candidates. Since Wynalda’s firing last week, the state of the club heading into the restart has been in question with games scheduled to start in less than a month.

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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24

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