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Australia’s A-League suspended until April 22

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SYDNEY — Australian soccer’s A-League has suspended its season indefinitely, bringing an end to all professional football competitions in Australia and New Zealand until the coronavirus pandemic passes.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi “feeling fine and back to his usual self” ]

Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson announced the decision Tuesday, saying the latest measures imposed by the federal government made it impossible for the A-League to continue. The league had only a few regular-season rounds remaining before the playoffs. Johnson said the postponement will be reviewed on April 22.

“As a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible,” Johnson said.

He remained optimistic the season could resume and said the postponement likely was “heartbreaking” for players, clubs and fans. All soccer in Australia from community to professional level has now been halted.

[ MORE: Transfer rumors: Aubameyang to Man United, Skriniar to Man City ]

“We will feel this,” Johnson said. “We will feel the financial pressure on the game at all levels. The game will survive. Will we need to make changes, be different? I say yes.”

The multi-national Super Rugby competition suspended its season last week and attempts in Australia and New Zealand to create domestic competitions for their teams have been put on hold.

Australian rules’ Australian Football League suspended its season Sunday after only one round. The National Rugby League followed suit on Monday after two rounds. In each case government restrictions on national and international travel, on public gatherings and non-essential activities made continuing untenable.

Premier League players told to train at home

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Players from multiple Premier League clubs have been told to stay at home and train, a day after most returned to training as normal at their training grounds.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures on Monday as the UK changed its strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson said that “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel,” and added that people “should avoid pubs, clubs, theaters and other such social venues.”

Man United, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Southampton are among the PL clubs who have sent their players home with a special workout plan as the players are in constant contact with medical and fitness staff.

Plenty of teams have given their players time off and many are not returning to training until March 23 or 24, as Arsenal will return on the latter date as they self-isolate due to manager Mikel Arteta testing positive for coronavirus. Newcastle will not return until Mar. 30, while Tottenham’s players will only train on weekdays.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad have now been advised to follow individual fitness and conditioning programmes from home. Club medical and sports science staff will remain in regular contact with players and ensure they have the necessary equipment to maintain their fitness,” Southampton said in a statement.

Players from Chelsea are currently training in self-isolation due to Callum Hudson-Odoi testing positive for coronavirus but Mason Mount has apologized to Frank Lampard after ignoring those rules after being spotted playing five-a-side with West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice in London over the weekend.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

A-League to continue behind closed doors, condensed season

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Football Federation Australia chairman James Johnson confirmed that the A-League season and W-League final will be played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two of 11 A-League clubs are currently in a 14-day isolation, as six rounds of the 2019-20 regular season have yet to be played.

“This is an unprecedented time and extremely complex for the sport and society at large,” Johnson said in a press conference on Monday (Australia time).

Following a game in New Zealand, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory, now back in Australian soil, are in self-isolation for the next 14 days. Neither team will be able to train during the mandatory quarantine period. The FFA confirmed that games involving both sides in Round 24 and 25 will be rescheduled for a later time.

“The decision to play the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, and the Westfield W-League 2020 Grand Final behind closed doors was made in consultation with the clubs and in accordance with the latest Federal Government advice,” Johnson added.

“The health and safety of all members of the football community, including players, coaches, referees, volunteers, administrators and fans continues to be of paramount importance. We will continue to work with the Government and seek advice as the situation changes.”

Despite only having six rounds left (30 games) in the season, the FFA decided against suspending the league all together. Instead, the six remaining regular season rounds will be packed into a three or four week period.

“We have got 30 matches left, six competition rounds to go, it is our intent to compress the rest of that season,” FFA’s head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said. “We have spoken to the clubs. And we’re now speaking to the venues to see whether or not it’s possible for us to complete those six rounds in three to four weeks.

“We will also have all our games behind closed doors,” he added.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

Watford’s Pearson slams PM’s ‘lack of leadership’ on coronavirus

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Watford manager Nigel Pearson has slammed UK prime minister Boris Johnson over what he deems a “lack of leadership” regarding his handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which nearly led to Premier League fixtures — along with those of various levels of British soccer — to be played this weekend.

[ MORE: Klopp on PL suspension: “We must protect one another” ]

“I heard one of the statements from the prime minister last night talking about listening, and that the decisions would be based on science and that there’s not necessarily a greater risk with people being together at sporting venues. If that’s based on science, fine, but that doesn’t necessarily make sense to me.

“I wouldn’t want our fans to be going into a situation where they are fearful of contracting something that could possibly affect either themselves or a member of their family.”

“We’ve had players, as most clubs will have done, who have had symptoms of not being well. We’ve had players experiencing illness this week, who have stayed at home.

“We had somebody with a chest infection, somebody with an upset stomach and players who have shown flu-like symptoms. We’ve got one player awaiting tests results on his symptoms.”

A large number of the UK’s soccer leagues intended to go ahead with fixtures as scheduled this weekend — some with empty stadiums, but many with thousands of fans in attendance — on the basis that “the guidance from the relevant authorities remains that there is no medical rationale to close or cancel sporting events at this time,” per a(n early) Thursday statement from the English Football League (EFL).

[ MORE: UEFA postpones Champions League, Europa League fixtures ]

The PL released its own statement, much to the same effect, on Thursday: “Following the latest update from Government issued this afternoon, all Premier League matches will go ahead as scheduled this weekend.”

That statement was quickly backtracked when it was revealed that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had tested positive for the virus, less than 60 minutes after the PL’s statement. News regarding Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi quickly followed in the same vein, just three hours later.

The sensible decision — to postpone the highest levels of British soccer — was, to Pearson’s overall point, made on Friday. The fact that sporting officials have been forced to take the lead, ahead of government officials from numerous countries around the world, and institute a period of social isolation also speaks to Pearson’s frustration.

Americans Abroad: USMNT trio McKennie, Sargent, Miazga score

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A trio of staple U.S. men’s national team players scored over the weekend, making it one of the most productive weekends for Americans abroad this year.

Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent scored a goal apiece in Bundesliga action on Saturday. The 20-year-old forward scored three minutes into Werder Bremen’s eventual 2-2 draw, while the Schalke midfielder scored his team’s lone goal in the 20th minute.

Over in England, after a few months of instability, Matt Miazga registered his second goal with a Reading shirt.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic, who is recovering from an adductor injury, is getting closer to full recovery. Chelsea boss Frank Lampard mentioned that the American star took part in an  “in-house game” prior to the Blues’ bout against Everton.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin remained in the bench in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from an injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes also remains sidelined as he continues to recover from an injury. There’s no timeline on his return either.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old scored and played 90 minutes in Reading’s 3-1 in win over Birmingham City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — Lichaj is out for the season with an ankle injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender was sent off against Preston North End on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 82 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luton Town (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and played 90 minutes in Luton’s 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt Just weeks removed from a stellar, two-goal performance, Chandler wasn’t called on the bench in Frankfurt’s 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played all game in Wolfsburg 0-0 draw with RB Leipzig.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen is out with an injury, while Morales was left on the bench in Fortuna’s draw with Mainz.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent played 87 minutes and scored a goal in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams was left on the bench.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson, too, was left on the bench on Saturday.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started and played all 90 minutes in Ajax’s 3-1 win over SC Heerenveen.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 77 minutes in VVV Venlo’s 3-0 loss.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah is out for the remainder of the season.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordon-Siebatcheu didn’t feature for Rennes on Sunday.

Honorable Mentions

Dillon Powers, Dundee United — Powers played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Dundee’s 1-1 draw with Patrick Thistle on Saturday.

Aron Johannsson, Hammarby — The striekr played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Hammarby’s 4-0 win over Sundsvall on Sunday.

Joel Sonora, Arsenal de Sarandi — Sonora played 12 minutes and scored a goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aldosivi on Friday.