United Soccer League Championship team New Mexico United has been forced to move a second home game out of the state due to local Covid-19 restrictions.
The scheduled August 15 game against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC has been moved from University of New Mexico Soccer Complex in Albuquerque to Switchbacks FC’s Weidner Field in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Under state directives, contact sports, such as soccer, have been banned in New Mexico for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic.
This has severely affected New Mexico United. A home match against Real Monarchs has been postponed from July 29 to September 30, while a scheduled home match against Phoenix Rising on August 8 was played in Arizona.
It appears extremely unlikely that New Mexico United will play any games at its home venue this year.
The USL has looked to set a “bold and aggressive” precedent by becoming the first team-based sports organization in the United States to return to action in local markets in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, a number of games have been postponed – including three consecutive Los Angeles Galaxy II matches – because of coronavirus-related issues. It is a problem that has affected Major League Baseball, which is also playing in home markets.
Fans are also allowed at USL games where allowed. However, San Antonio FC has announced that its three remaining home games in August will now be staged without spectators due to the rapidly changing nature of the health crisis.
The USL remains confident that its season will be completed in time despite the mounting setbacks.
“We have full faith and confidence in our protocols and are working with our teams every day to make sure that they’re being implemented correctly,” the USL told the Arizona Republic in a statement. “We also built in to our return-to-play model a significant amount of flexibility to account for the impact of Covid-19 on USL communities, including the opportunity for clubs to have unbalanced schedules, windows for the rescheduling of matches and – if necessary – flexibility in our playoff calendar.”
Meanwhile, Major League Soccer is finalizing plans to play games in home markets following the conclusion of the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida. An official announcement is expected on August 7.