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Battle in the Beehive

The NWSL is replacing its 2020 season with a rapid-fire tournament

Professional soccer is officially back on in the United States.

The National Women's Soccer League announced Wednesday that the league would return to play with a 25-game tournament running from June 27 to July 26 in Utah. The league's 2020 season, scheduled to run from April to November, had been delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Billed as the Challenge Cup, the tournament will feature all nine NWSL teams playing matches in the Salt Lake City area, but without spectators in the stadiums. The league will also institute strict testing and quarantine protocols for players and staff members, similar to those followed by other leagues that have resumed activity. Matches will be streamed on CBS All Access, with the opener and final match being broadcast on CBS.

Questions remain over whether all of the league's top stars, many of whom play for the World Cup-champion U.S. national team, will play. The U.S. Soccer Federation, which pays the salaries of the national team players, issued a statement saying it would be up to those players if they wanted to participate, and at least some had reportedly expressed reservations about health and safety.

The top men's soccer league in the U.S., Major League Soccer, has reportedly been developing a similar plan, with teams congregating for a tournament in Orlando.