On Thursday afternoon San Antonio FC announced their revised schedule for 2020. SAFC was only one match into the current campaign back in March when sports leagues all across the country were paused due to the Covid-19 virus. Nearly four months later, USL Championship is ready to move forward with a shortened season that will begin on July 11th. SAFC will have to wait an additional week as their first game back will be against Texas rivals RGV FC; a road match on July 17th. Their first home game will not come until July 25th, when SAFC will again face RGV FC.
For anyone who thinks it's odd to see the same opponent back to back to kickoff the restart, there's a good explanation. The new USL Championship format, which was unveiled last month, has essentially turned into a mini USL World Cup-type format. Each team will play 16 games and the revamped regular season basically serves as an extended Group Play.
The League has been divided into 8 regional groups; some with 5 teams, some with 4 teams. For SAFC, it's a 5 team group consisting of RGV FC, Austin Bold, OKC Energy, and FC Tulsa. Those four teams will make up 14 of SAFC's remaining 15 games. A game against Texas rivals El Paso is also in the mix for SAFC. Their 1-0 win over Real Monarchs in March still counts in the standings.
El Paso is the odd Texas team out and that leaves many questions about how Copa Tejas, the all-Texas Regular Season Cup Tournament will be played. It's likely 2020 may have to be an abandoned year for the Cup Tournament due to scheduling limitations.
The biggest remaining question is will there be fans at Toyota Field when the team returns on July 25th? As of now, that remains unanswered. Due to lingering virus concerns, two Western teams have formally stated they will not be hosting fans. New Mexico United announced they would not have fans for the entire regular season and Phoenix Rising said they would not have fans at least for the month of July.
If fans do return here in San Antonio, they can expect enhanced safety protocols such as limited stadium capacity, mandatory masks, and modified concessions to name a few. SAFC stated in an email sent to supporters on Thursday that they will continue to work with local authorities to review a potential safe return for the fans. They went on to say that more information would be announced in the coming days.
There will be 8 playoff teams from the West (and 8 from the East) when all is said and done. In each Conference, four group Winners and four group Runners-Up will qualify for the post-season. Group Winners will be matched up against Group Runners-Up in the Opening Round of the Playoffs. From there, it will be single elimination games until a Cup Winner is crowned. So the season goal has been simplified for SAFC - finish top two in their Group.
Additionally, five substitutions will be allowed for each team in remaining games throughout 2020.
The season will feature 15 games in 11 weeks, with seven home matches and eight away games remaining for San Antonio FC. The club will play 10 Saturday matches, three Wednesday matches and two Friday games.
Here is the full revised 2020 schedule for San Antonio FC: (home games in BOLD)
July 17 at RGV FC
July 25 vs RGV FC
Aug 1 at Austin
Aug 8 at OKC
Aug 12 at Tulsa
Aug 15 vs Austin
Aug 19 vs OKC
Aug 22 vs Tulsa
Aug 29 at RGV FC
Sept 5 vs RGV FC
Sept 12 at El Paso
Sept 16 vs Austin
Sept 19 vs OKC
Sept 26 at Tulsa
Oct 2 at Austin