PITTSBURGH (June 24, 2020) – Today, the USL Championship announced its competition format for the remainder of the 2020 season, consisting of a 16-game regular season schedule as well as an updated single-elimination playoff structure.
As Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC has not yet played a match this season, the club will have a full 16-game slate upon return to play, which is provisionally set for July 11. Other USL Championship clubs that had already played one or two matches will play 15 or 14 games, respectively, upon the season restart.
The regular season will last 13 weeks and conclude on the weekend of Oct. 2-4. In order to limit travel, clubs will be split into eight regionalized groups, five of which consisting of four teams and three of which having five teams. These regionalized groups have yet to be unveiled.
Of the 16-game schedule, 12 matches will be against regionalized group members while the remaining four matches will be played against teams in a similar geographic region. Through this, each team placed in a four-team group will play its three fellow group members four times, while each team placed in a five-team group will play its four fellow group members three times.
Games played prior to the suspension of the season will count toward the allotment of 16 overall games, either as in-group contests or as one of the additional four contests that will complete the schedule.
Teams will be initially scheduled to play a balanced schedule of eight games, home and away, in the regular season. However, the Board of Governors has also approved the ability for clubs to play an unbalanced amount of home and away matches, if necessary. For example, if a club is experiencing difficulties with venue availability due to the impact of COVID-19 in its community.
At the completion of the regular season, the top two teams from each group will advance to the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs, producing a field of 16 teams overall in a regionalized single-elimination bracket. Group winners will be paired with group runners-up in the Round of 16, with home advantage being determined by record for the remainder of the bracket.
Earlier this week, the USL Championship announced it will allow five substitutions in the remainder of 2020 matches, which is an increase from the prior maximum of three substitutions. Teams will have three opportunities to make these five substitutions over the course of the game, and substitutions made at halftime will not be counted against clubs’ three in-game opportunities.
For more information on return to play, please visit uslchampionship.com.