Utah Royals to host summer NWSL tournament as league makes plans for return to play

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press (23) celebrates her second goal as the Utah Royals FC host Sky Blue FC, August 7, 2019 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

All nine National Women’s Soccer League teams will play a tournament this summer in Real Salt Lake venues, the Salt Lake Tribune has confirmed.

The tournament, first reported by The Washington Post, could be officially announced before the end of the week. The NWSL would be one of the first professional sports league to announce a return to play after COVID-19 shut practically everything down in mid-March.

The tournament will go from June 29 to around July 22 and be played at Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Stadium in Sandy and Herriman, respectively. Rio Tinto is home to RSL and the Utah Royals FC, while Zions Bank Stadium is where the Real Monarchs play their home games.

The plan is for the first three games to occur at Zions Bank Stadium, while the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament will be at Rio Tinto, per a source with knowledge of the plan. The source requested anonymity to discuss details not yet announced.

Testing for COVID-19 will be “regular,” but the exactly frequency is yet to be determined. Players and staff won’t be quarantined, but will have restrictions on what they do off the field.

Teams will stay in the dormitories near RSL’s training facility and at some hotels. Training sessions will be held mainly at the Herriman facility, with some at America First Field, where the Royals practice.

The OL Reign, Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars are slated to arrive in In Utah on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Whether spectators will be allowed is still to be determined. The hope is a small, possibly previously selected group of fans can attend to start, with numbers growing as restrictions in the state continue to lift. Most of Utah is currently under “yellow” risk level, but certain cities, like Salt Lake, are still in “orange.”

Games will be broadcast on one of the many CBS platforms per the new deal between the network and the NWSL.