UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): While acknowledging the situation could still change, Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey said the Sounders are still planning to play their road match against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. The Sounders will be taking a charter flight.
UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): The Sounders confirmed that their home match against FC Dallas on March 21 has been postponed. The Tacoma Defiance also announced that tonight’s match against San Diego Loyal will be played behind closed-doors and that their March 22 home match has been postponed. The XFL’s Seattle Dragons also announced that their match on Sunday would be played behind closed doors.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee banned large gatherings — specifically sporting events and concerts — in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in response to the worsening coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday. Presumably, that means the Seattle Sounders’ next home match on March 21 will have to be moved, played behind closed doors or cancelled. Tonight’s Tacoma Defiance match will also likely be affected somehow. The ban runs through March, but Inslee said it’s “likely” to be extended beyond that.
“This is not an ordinary flu, it is a virus that experts tell us is 10 times more deadly than flu,” Gov. Inslee said. “This is an extremely dangerous event but we are not helpless. There is a very successful effort that we can take to slow the spread of this disease.”
The city of Houston has also started cancelling events, meaning Saturday’s match against the Dynamo is likely to be affected as well.
Although schools and stores are exempt from the decision, the ban is an attempt to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus’ spread. While the goal of such measures is to lower the number of people who are ultimately infected — and potentially die — the main purpose is to spread out the impact over a longer period of time so that the medical infrastructure is not overwhelmed.
Inslee’s official announcement, which was first reported on Tuesday night by various outlets, comes as various countries are cancelling sporting events. Italy, for instance, first tried playing Serie A matches behind closed doors before calling them off all together earlier this week. Argentina has also cancelled all sporting events for the rest of March. In the United States, the city of San Francisco has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
This story will be updated as news develops.