The New York/New Jersey Metro Area is one of the hardest hit by the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. On March 13th, the NWSL suspended training pending a full assessment of safety protocols. The doors have been closed ever since. While occasional match replays have helped keep sport withdrawal at bay, they cannot compare to live sports. Thankfully for fans, Sky Blue FC has kept themselves busy in hopes the 2020 season can still be a success.
A tournament of the nine NWSL teams could be officially announced as early as today. Real Monarchs, based in Salt Lake City and affiliated with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, would host the events in Utah. Players would be housed in dormitories and hotels near RSL’s training facility. SBFC is slated to arrive in Utah next week, well ahead of the projected tournament start of June 29th.
Social Media Buzzing
While players, coaches, and fans are waiting to see live games again, SBFC has kept their social media channels hopping. There are player interviews, links to activity pages and games, and fun interactions with other teams on the team Twitter account. Photo and video submissions of the team spending quality time at home pepper the official Instagram roll.
Home Opener, Indeed
April 25th was supposed to be the Sky Blue FC home opener at Red Bull Arena in Harrison. This move to one of the premier soccer arenas in the United States was meant to be a turning point for the team. Making the best of the situation, Sky Blue presented their ‘Stay Home Opener’ instead.
Business As Usual
Just one day before operations were suspended, the NWSL announced a television deal with CBS Sports. Originally, CBS Sports was set to broadcast 87 NWSL matches across CBS, CBS Sports Network, and CBS All Access, CBS’s subscription video on demand and live streaming service. Games were also scheduled for global broadcast on Twitch, a video live streaming service popular for gaming.
At the club level, Sky Blue renewed their partnership with New Jersey Youth Soccer. Planned initiatives include virtual appearances by SBFC players at NJ Youth Soccer events, and then in person once activities resume outside. They will also explore initiatives to recruit and retain women at all levels of the sport.
Only Time Will Tell
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a part owner of SBFC along with his wife Tammy, has specifically expressed his hopes that soccer can come back to the state soon. It may look different, with empty stands and socially distant benches. But it would be a clear sign that we are returning to life as usual in these United States.