This story will be updated as more information becomes readily available.
The expanding global pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused widespread cancellations around the New England soccer community, ranging from professional games to youth leagues.
The New England Revolution and Hartford Athletic have suspended their seasons for 30 days after league-wide decisions, while the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has suspended matches through April 30 and cancelled the inaugural Spring Cup competition.
The start of the USL League One season for Revolution II has also been pushed back by a minimum of two weeks, while the Elite Clubs National League is also suspended through April 30.
The America East Conference, Big East, Ivy League, MAAC and Patriot League have also cancelled Division I spring sports, meaning the traditional spring seasons for those men’s and soccer programs won’t take place. Division III conferences NEWMAC and NESCAC have also cancelled spring sports.
As of posting Thursday afternoon, COVID-19 has over 1,200 confirmed cases in the United and 36 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control. There are also states of emergency declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
COVID-19 is a flu-like disease that mainly causes fever, cough and shortness of breath, on top of respiratory issues. Medical professionals have advised that symptoms may not surface for 5-14 days after exposure.
The cancellations are largely rooted in avoiding community spread, meaning less time around others reduces the chance for COVID-19 to transmit. Other prevention measures include washing your hands, disinfecting surfaces and staying home if you’re sick.
The Revolution, as part of a Major League Soccer decision, see their March 15 (Portland Timbers), April 4 (Colorado Rapids) and April 8 (Seattle Sounders) games at Gillette Stadium affected. The club said their goal is to reschedule those matches, and that they’ll honor ticket sales for each date.
The Revolution are in the early days of their 25th season and are 0-1-1 after drawing the Chicago Fire last weekend and losing on opening day at the Montreal Impact. This is their first full year under head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena.
“The New England Revolution support Major League Soccer’s decision to suspend match play for 30 days,” the team’s statement read. “The safety and well-being of Revolution fans, players, coaches, and employees is the club’s top priority.”
Before the broader USL Championship decision came, Hartford Athletic on Wednesday initially postponed its March 21 (Charleston Battery) and April 4 (Memphis 901 FC) games at Dillon Stadium.
The second-year club, entering its first season under new head coach Radhi Jaidi, was slated to play its home opener Friday at New York Red Bulls II.
“As we continue to learn more about how this will affect our community, we have made this decision – and will continue to make decisions – with the best interest of our fans in mind,” Hartford Athletic chairman Bruce Mandell said in a statement. “By delaying our first two home matches, we will use this time to continue to assess the situation and prepare for our first home match. We look forward to a full, robust, and exciting 2020 season for our fans.”
For Revolution II, their March 28 (Orlando City B) and April 3 (Richmond Kickers) home games at Gillette Stadium are now postponed. The team, coached by Clint Peay, is approaching its inaugural campaign.
“The entire Revolution organization supports this decision made in order to best protect the well-being of the club’s fans, players, coaches, and employees,” a team statement said.
The DA decision sees the 2019-20 season go on pause for hundreds of local players. The boys’ side includes Beachside SC, Boston Bolts, NEFC, New England Revolution Academy, Oakwood SC, Seacoast United and Valeo. On the girls’ side, there’s NEFC, Oakwood SC, Seacoast United and South Shore Select.
The Spring Cup competition was set to include the Revolution U-19s after they won their Winter Cup group this past December. Meanwhile, the DA has encouraged all clubs to seek guidance from their local health departments before making decisions about holding training sessions.
“We have been in communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local departments of public health, and after those conversations and continuously monitoring the situation, we strongly believe this is the best decision considering the ongoing worldwide health situation,” said U.S. Soccer chief medical officer George Chiampas in a release.
In an email sent out Thursday afternoon, Boston Bolts CEO Brian Ainscough said the club is suspending all activity with their DA, ECNL and NEP teams through at least March 30.
“This suspension of activity is being done through an abundance of caution,” Ainscough said in an email. “We do not need to place anyone at risk of contracting or spreading this disease. To be clear, at this time we do not know of any Boston Bolts player, staff or family who have been infected, but we must do our part to ensure the safety of all and reduce the risk of this spreading.”
Eric Da Costa, who runs the Boys ECNL program at Connecticut FC, said the club is on hold for a while. More details will come soon, he said.
“In an effort to minimize community contact within large groups, CFC has suspended all operations,” Da Costa wrote to New England Soccer Journal. “Teams will not train or compete in the immediate future. The club will reassess the timeline and possible add new directives on Friday.”
Seacoast is suspending all operations indoor and outdoor until March 27.
“Due to the latest developments of the COVID-19 virus rapidly changing information, the organization has made the difficult decision in an effort to be proactive and help alleviate any concerns,” Seacoast said in a statement.
The Massachusetts Futsal Association’s decision comes as league championships were to be handed out Saturday and Sunday. Teams that reached the finals will be crowned co-champions.
“We do not wish to stoke fear nor overreaction, but out of concern for the entire futsal community we have elected to cancel all games and academies,” director of futsal Jason Miller wrote.
The ECNL decision affects five major clubs: Boston Bolts, Connecticut FC, FC Stars and FSA FC and Scorpions.
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