UPDATE: Tacoma Defiance are in Group A with Portland Timbers 2, Reno 1868 FC, and Sacramento Republic FC. They will play four games against each of Portland and Sacramento, and three games against Reno after having played them in their opening game of the season. Having played San Diego Loyal already as well, Tacoma will have three remaining games against teams outside of Group A. With two losses under their belt already, one of them against a team in their group, Tacoma will have a tough road through the group, although Portland lost their one game of 2020 so far 6-1 against Phoenix Rising.
The USL Championship announced the format for the remainder of the 2020 season on Wednesday with the 35 teams completing what is now a 16-game season. It had previously been announced that play would resume on July 11, and the league’s training moratorium was lifted effective the same day as the latest announcement.
The teams will be split into eight geographically-determined groups — five groups of four teams and three groups of five teams — o er the course of 13 weeks, concluding on the first weekend of October. The top two teams from each group will advance to a 16-team “regionalized single-elimination bracket.” Group winners will be paired against group runners-up in the initial round of the playoffs, with home advantage determined by record as teams progress.
Teams that had already completed games during the opening week of the 2020 season prior to suspension due to COVID-19 will have those games count toward the 16-game season, which means that Tacoma Defiance will have 14 games remaining in their regular season. The Defiance lost both of their previous games.
The schedules for teams will be made up of 12 games against teams within their group, and the remaining games will be played against teams outside their group “that fall within a similar geographic region.” That means that teams in four-team groups will play the other teams in their group four times, while members of five-team groups will play each other three times. Games already completed can count as either in-group games or one of the four games that completes their schedules.
Schedules will initially be balanced to give each team eight home games and eight away games — Tacoma having already played two home games would only have six remaining — but with the potential to change to an unbalanced schedule, for example in the event a team is unable to play in their home venue due to COVID-19. The league has also confirmed that the five substitute rule will be implemented for the remainder of the season. Each team will have three opportunities to make substitutions, as well as being able to make substitutions at halftime without losing one of their three substitution opportunities.
Groups A through D will be announced Thursday and E through H will be announced Friday. Those announcements will take place between 9 am and Noon PT. For Tacoma Defiance, the only seemingly guaranteed member of their group is Portland Timbers 2.