Ahead of its return on July 11th, USL have officially announced the format in which its Coronavirus-struck season will continue.
The league was only able to complete one matchweek before it was forced to shut down, due to concerns regarding the spread of the virus, with many states around the country issuing mandatory quarantines, making travel impossible for their respective clubs, of course at the cost of the season.
However, as with leagues all over the world, USL remained committed to playing out what they could of the campaign, and after setting a start date earlier this month, the league pulled back the curtains on plans to do so.
The Championship clubs will be divided into eight groups, by region, in order to limit travel. Each team will play 16 games, with games already played counted as part of that schedule. This means that the Battery will start with a win and 15 games to go, but that other teams will still have their full 16 game slate to complete, while others have 14, after playing two games. Five groups will have four teams, while three groups will have five, covering the full 35 team division.
Within a given group, the clubs will play 12 games, with another four games outside of its group, but still locked within a similar geographical region. Through this, each team placed in a four-team group will play its three fellow group members four times, while each team placed in a five-team group will play its four fellow group members three times. Games before lockdown will count against these numbers, meaning the Battery will have three games to play against Atlanta United, as an example.
Teams are initially scheduled for a balanced eight home and away games each, but the league’s board of governors have approved any necessary changes ahead of time if that balanced schedule cannot be completed due to concerns over spikes in a particular area.
As with other leagues around the globe, and in accordance with FIFA rule changes, USL will allow five substitutions during matches, with three windows of time to make changes, while a half time change does not count against these three windows.
As for playoffs, the top two teams in each group will advance to a 16 team tournament following the weekend of October 2-4.The tournament will be played in a regionalized single elimination bracket, where group winners will be paired against runner’s up in the round of 16. Home advantage will be determined after that by record.
With the announcement of groups A-D, consisting of the teams from the Western Conference, the remaining groups, which will include the Battery, are set to be announced Friday.