Following concerns that Phoenix Rising FC amassed the most points in league play with a boost from a San Diego Loyal forfeit, the team announced it would not host the USL Championship title game should it reach the finals.
The Phoenix Rising FC points total was boosted by three points following San Diego Loyal SC’s forfeiture due to the use of a homophobic slur by a Phoenix Rising player, a boost that ended up being in play among tiebreakers as the circuit launches the playoffs. Phoenix Rising and Louisville City FC ended the regular season tied in total points and victories, with Rising holding the edge in hosting priority based on the third tiebreaker: goal differential.
But that edge came due to the forfeiture, where an alleged homophobic slur Phoenix star Junior Flemmings led San Diego to forfeit the match. Flemmings ended up being suspended for the balance of the season. The optics were really bad for Phoenix Rising FC to be awarded the USL Championship title game, and after USL officials announced Phoenix would potentially host the match, the resulting outcry led to a reversal of the decision.
As a result, the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between Louisville City FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies will host the 2020 Championship Final.
“While our dream has been to host a USL Championship Final in Phoenix, the integrity of our Club and city comes first,” Phoenix Rising governor Berke Bakay in a press statement. “If we are fortunate to prevail over a very strong opponent in El Paso Locomotive and earn a position for our team to play in the USL Championship Final, we would prefer to shine a positive light on our commitment to the LGBTQ community and amplify the need for acceptance and equality in professional sports.”
Photo courtesy Phoenix Rising FC.