The United Soccer League has announced Saturday the 2020 USL Championship Final between the The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Phoenix Rising FC has been canceled after multiple people on the Tampa Bay Rowdies tested positive for COVID-19.
The announcement comes just one day before the game was set to be played in Florida.
The Rowdies and Rising along with the USL decided to cancel the final game to protect others from possibly spreading the virus.
The Phoenix Rising will finish the 2020 season as Western Conference Title-Winners and neither team will be named the USL Championship Final Winners.
"The decision has been made for the health and safety of everyone involved after multiple persons on the Tampa Bay Rowdies covered persons list tested positive for COVID-19 upon a second round of rapid testing on Saturday morning at the Tampa Bay Rays’ medical facilities," the USL said in a statement. "The affected individuals have been immediately isolated at home, are recovering in good spirits under the care of team physicians and infectious disease experts, and all league, local and state health and wellness protocols continue to be followed."
A few players reacted to the news via social media.
2020 strikes again. After doing everything right as players and club, following protocols and going through everything 2020 has dumped on us, playing in a final, fighting for a 🏆 for the city of PHX was the payoff for everything we’ve been through, would have made it worth it. https://t.co/WBoJAwQX3w— Zac Lubin (@ZLubin28) October 31, 2020
Extremely sad for not being able to enjoy the moment of playing the USL Final. Proud of all the efforts and sacrifices that everyone in this organization made through the year to get to this point. A helpless sensation at the moment but hard to compete against 2020. @PHXRisingFC https://t.co/C9zlaHHvHD— Santi Moar (@SantiMoar) October 31, 2020
“First and foremost, we want to applaud these two teams on an incredible season,” said USL President Jake Edwards in a statement. “They deserved the opportunity to play for the USL Championship Final trophy and we are disappointed that we won’t be able to watch them on Sunday night. With that said, we want to thank all of our clubs, our supporters, our players and our staff for all of their time, hard work and energy this season. We’ve grown closer under difficult circumstances and we can’t wait to be back together again soon.”
The USL also says they "will explore the possibility of a 2021 Season Kickoff game" against the Rowdies and the Rising before the 2021 season begins.
“While we are disappointed that the Championship and League One Finals have been cancelled, we understand and appreciate the decision to put player health and wellness first,” said the USL Players Association Executive Committee in a statement from the USL. “We look forward to seeing all our players back in action at the start of next season.
To read the full release from the USL click here.