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Lights FC to play 15 more games if season resumes

The Lights FC will play 15 more games when the United Soccer League Championship attempts to resume its season.

The USL Championship hopes to have all teams complete a shortened 16-game regular season over 13 weeks after returning to play July 11, the league announced Wednesday. The Lights played one game before the shutdown, a 1-1 draw at San Diego Loyal SC on March 7. Teams usually play a 34-game regular season.

The league will divide its 35 teams into eight groups (five with four teams and three with five) to limit travel. Teams will play 12 games within their group and four with clubs in a similar geographic region.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the USL Championship playoffs, creating a 16-team, single-elimination bracket. The league hopes to be done with the regular season the weekend of Oct. 2-4.

The USL is attempting to be the first North American pro sports league to return with games in home arenas. The National Women’s Soccer League, Major League Soccer and the NBA are attempting to stage events at centralized locations. The NHL will try to finish its season at two undetermined sites probably beginning in late July or early August. MLB will attempt to begin its season in home stadiums July 23 or 24.

The USL Championship released 51 pages of health and safety protocols Wednesday. The guidelines cover social distancing on the sidelines and in the locker rooms, temperature checks at all team activities and weekly COVID-19 testing, among other things.

Lights owner Brett Lashbrook said any players who feel uncomfortable practicing, playing or traveling with the team will receive their full salaries.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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