2020. What a long strange trip it's been.
What was on tilt to be one of the most exciting years in the history of Davis soccer was flipped on its head this past spring.
After a title winning 2019, securing our areas first ever birth to the US Open Cup, and the launch of our WPSL Women’s team, 2020 was packed with historic accomplishments for our soccer community.
Then in March, COVID-19 ground our daily lives to a halt and soccer along with it.
With Coronavirus delaying our on-field action, the most frequent question we receive is what's the plan for 2021?
Let’s dive in.
What We Know
With all the uncertainty that defined 2020, recent developments made the future for sports a bit less murky. Here is what we know:
With a vaccine developed and now in its distribution phase, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
According to best estimates, if vaccination efforts are successful on a variety of fronts, a slow return to normalcy could start by the end of the second quarter of 2021. That means sometime at the end of June. However, a pre-pandemic environment most likely will not be here until the end of 2021. This is assuming everything goes well.
Regardless of a nationwide timeline, there will be state/county specific requirements we have to meet in order to get on the field. Compared to other states, California placed soccer in a more restrictive tier.
Currently, California guidelines have soccer games in ORANGE tier. The lowest Yolo county has been since the start of the pandemic was RED. If the criteria for Yolo to move into the ORANGE tier is met, it just means games can be played, not that there will necessarily be fans.
As of right now, we are still in the purple tier (widespread) and far off from where we would need to be in order to play a match. According to the state, these guidelines can be revisited.
OK, we now have some good news and some not so good news. The good news is we have a clear path to get back on the field. The bad news is it may take a long time to get there.
So, how does all this affect our teams?
Let's take a look.
With a historical start date at the end of February/beginning of March, normally our men would be entering a 2 month preseason.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the earliest possible start to a season for the NPSL would be late April to the beginning of May. For games to start that early in California, we’d need a miracle. Even with a miracle, we would more than likely be playing without fans (no fun!).
That leaves our 2021 season with three scenarios:
Similar to other leagues, play a modified 2021 season that works within the NPSL national playoff format.
In the event conditions do not allow for a modified season, monitor the landscape for a potential Fall 2021, California only tournament.
Wait until spring 2022 to reopen, when a pre-pandemic environment should allow our events to return to normalcy.
So, you may be reading this and saying wait, no Lions soccer in 2021?!?
US Open Cup
The US Open Cup does have a chance of taking place in 2021. Due to a separate set of restrictions and insurance policy, it is possible for the Lions to play in our nation's oldest and most prestigious soccer tournament.
The 2020 US Open Cup was scheduled to begin in late March. A start date for 2021 will be known sometime this January. Due to games being on ESPN, the logistics and planning for the nationwide tournament is a significant undertaking. Factor in COVID-19 and it becomes more complicated.
An update on the Lions 2021 Cup Run will be made in the coming weeks.
Oh how we missed last summer!
What was scheduled to be a smash hit, our Lionesses were slated to hit the field for the first time ever this past May to thunderous support.
Our WPSL women’s team has a historical start date of mid to late May. Due to the Lionesses running on a summer calendar with a different set of league/conference requirements, there is a possibility of games taking place this summer in some fashion pending our COVID-19 numbers.
While from a league standpoint the team will have flexibility, California restrictions may be too tight to reach a level we need for games. If we enter the ORANGE tier this summer, there is a very good chance our town will see some action.
Updates on our WPSL team and season will be sent out regularly to our email list.