NWSL players kneel during the national anthem

FILE - In this April 15, 2017, file photo, Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair celebrates scoring a goal during the second half of their NWSL soccer match against the Orlando Pride in Portland, Ore. The National Women's Soccer League opens its Challenge Cup tournament on Saturday, June 27, 2020, and the pressure is on as the first professional team sport in the United States to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

NWSL first of professional sports leagues to return

The National Women’s Soccer League will open its Challenge Cup tournament Saturday outside of Salt Lake City, and the pressure is on as it becomes the first professional team sports league to play in the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the players aren’t as concerned about being first as they are eager to get back on the field.

“We’ve missed that feeling of the wins, the losses, the hard-fought battles, getting that last goal in the 90th minute,” Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan said. “It’s so sad not having that. For us players, this is our lives, this is our passion. So we all are so grateful that we have that back.”

The NWSL is taking the field as other professional leagues chart their immediate futures and as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the nation.

The players and staffs of the eight teams participating in the World Cup-style tournament in Utah are being sequestered in facilities used by the Utah Royals and Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake. Players will be subject to a rigorous testing protocol and games will be played without fans.

But the tournament has already hit some snags. The league’s ninth team, the Orlando Pride, was forced to withdraw earlier this week when six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. That forced the league to reshuffle the schedule, and, as a result, the remaining teams will advance to the knockout round.

Three U.S. national team players, the Reign’s Megan Rapinoe, Utah’s Christen Press and Portland’s Tobin Heath, opted out of the tournament. The NWSL allowed players to sit out over health concerns without losing their salaries.

Clemson football team

reports more positive tests

CLEMSON, S.C — Clemson said 14 more football players tested positive for the coronavirus this week, bringing the team total to 37 members who have had the disease since the school reopened facilities for workouts earlier this month.

Clemson said it has conducted 430 tests of its personnel with 47 coming up with COVID-19. It said that 28 of those have completed a 10-day isolation period. No one has been hospitalized for the virus.

Fan capacity Indy 500

in August increased

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis 500 will run in August with 50% fan capacity, a total that could still hit six figures at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indy 500 was bumped from its traditional May date because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 104th Indy 500 will run Aug. 23 at half the total of what is traditionally one of the biggest sporting events of the year. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” can pack about 250,000 fans in the spacious speedway, leaving plenty of room if the total is limited to half that total.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will still host an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader on the July 4 weekend without fans.

Davis Cup, Fed Cup finals canceled for 2020

LONDON — The Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals were scrapped for 2020 by the International Tennis Federation because of the coronavirus pandemic, and both competitions will resume next year.

The Davis Cup men’s competition was supposed to have qualifying matches for future finals in September and the 2020 finals in November. Now the World Group I and World Group II preliminary matches will be played next March or September, with the finals to be held in Madrid next November.

The ITF said the 18 nations that already qualified for the 2020 finals will keep those spots in 2021.

The Fed Cup women’s event was supposed to stage its finals indoors in April, but that too was postponed. Now the ITF is holding those finals April 13-18, 2021, in Budapest, Hungary — and similar to the Davis Cup, the 12 teams that qualified for 2020 will be in the field.

  • Tennis great Goran Ivanisevic says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The former Wimbledon champion coaches top-ranked Novak Djokovic and was at the recent Adria Tour exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia. Djokovic and three other players also have tested positive for the virus after playing in the events. Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki are the others.

Ivanisevic says he has no symptoms but will self-isolate.

Cooperstown: The baseball Hall of Fame museum has reopened after being shut for more than three months. Closed on March 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hall welcomed visitors on Friday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Face masks are required from all staff and guests.

The shrine is selling tickets that permit visitors to reserve a specific date and time to enter, reducing congestion in the front lobby and throughout the museum. Some of the Hall’s bigger gathering spots will remain closed. The popular plaque gallery is open.

Track and field: Diamond League track meets in France and the United States have been canceled because of the pandemic. Organizers say the Sept. 6 event in Paris and the Prefontaine meet on Oct. 4 in Eugene, Ore., cannot be held because of the current restrictions on mass gatherings and international travel.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article. You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.

Your sports-only digital subscription does not include access to this section.

SALE!
Only $3 for 3 Months
Unlimited Digital Access

  • Unlimited access to every article, video and piece of online content
  • Exclusive, locally-focused reporting
  • News delivered straight to your inbox via e-newsletters
  • Includes digital delivery of daily e-edition via email
SALE!
Only $3 for 3 Months
Unlimited Digital Access

  • Unlimited access to every article, video and piece of online content
  • Exclusive, locally-focused reporting
  • News delivered straight to your inbox via e-newsletters
  • Includes digital delivery of daily e-edition via email