Editor’s note: This story appears in our November-December 2020 magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition, or digital, here.
To call the 2020 USL Championship season unusual, objectively speaking, would be a massive understatement.
The simple version: The COVID-19 pandemic ensured matches were halted just as they began last March, and the Nov. 1 final was cancelled amid a spike in positive coronavirus cases. The championship match between Phoenix Rising FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies would've had New England connections, too, with center back Damion Lowe (Hartford) and forward Lucky Mkosana (Dartmouth) both in contention.
In between, clubs were split into eight geographic-specific groups instead of their usual Eastern and Western conferences, then marched through 16 regular-season games starting July 11. A limited number of fans were also in attendance where allowed, with ownership groups especially dependent on gate revenue.