The USL Championship final between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Phoenix Rising won’t be played as scheduled after multiple Tampa Bay players tested positive for COVID-19, sources told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman.
Sources told ESPN that the USL is still attempting to determine if the match, which had been scheduled for Sunday, will be rescheduled for a later date or canceled outright. Any rescheduling of the match would require a minimum delay of 3-4 weeks given the need to quarantine the affected players and staff, followed by a sufficient training period to prepare adequately for the match.
The positive results within the Tampa contingent are in addition to three previous positives that included Tampa manager Neill Collins.
Earlier in the week, the USL canceled the League One final between Union Omaha and Greenville Triumph SC, with Greenville being declared the champion on the basis of a better points-per-game average during the regular season.
Applying such an approach to the USL Championship is bound to be controversial. The Rising gave up the hosting rights to the final following an incident on Sept. 30 in which Phoenix forward Junior Flemmings directed an anti-gay slur at San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin. The Loyal walked off the field in protest, thus forfeiting the match, allowing Phoenix to claim all three points. Flemmings was suspended for six games while Phoenix manager Rick Schantz was placed on administrative leave, though he has since returned.
But even without the forfeit, Phoenix would still have a points-per-game edge over Tampa, putting them in line to be declared the champion if the game isn’t played. The other option is for the USL to not declare a champion at all.