USC’s most uncommon season opener might get a uncommon customer: rain


They’d ready for almost every thing. A quiet, empty Coliseum. An uncommon, early begin time. Fixed testing and social distancing and countless security protocols.

However at first of a shortened USC soccer season outlined by the surprising, coach Clay Helton didn’t anticipate the rain.

Add that to the checklist of extraordinary circumstances USC might face when it lastly debuts on Saturday at 9 opposition to Arizona State. Los Angeles hasn’t recorded a measurable rainfall in practically six months, however with a greater than 60% probability of precipitation, rain appears more likely to fall sooner or later throughout the recreation.

So this week, Helton and his crew have been pressured to regulate once more, this time including moist footballs to their preparation.

By this level, USC needs to be used to adjusting on the fly. Since spring observe was shut down in March by the novel coronavirus, change and the looming uncertainty that comes with it have been just about the one constants throughout faculty soccer.

That rocky path to Pac-12 soccer might lastly clean out Saturday, when the convention’s seven-game season kicks off greater than two months after it was initially scheduled. However even with every day testing in place and video games being performed, the specter of a season out of the blue being derailed will doubtless linger till Dec. 19, when the convention title is scheduled to be determined.

The league was reminded of that razor-thin margin for error this week, when on Wednesday, a California participant examined optimistic for COVID-19. By Thursday afternoon, the Saturday recreation between Cal and Washington had been canceled as a result of contact tracing left Cal with out the minimal variety of scholarship gamers essential to play, in accordance with Pac-12 security protocols.

USC has been largely profitable in limiting unfold of the virus since welcoming athletes again to campus in June. Soccer exercises have been paused for 2 weeks between late August and early September when a rash of instances tied to an off-campus occasion infiltrated the soccer and water polo packages. However with 4,877 assessments carried out at USC as of final Friday, solely 21 positives had been reported since testing started in mid-June.

Helton praised his gamers’ efforts to stay to protocols, however after months of fine fortune in that regard, he mentioned he has continuously warned his gamers to not get too comfy.

“It’s one thing the place we’ve got to attempt to be as constant as humanly doable,” Helton mentioned. “You must strive as laborious as you possibly can to have the ability to put your self in protected conditions. Plenty of it comes right down to decision-making, to be trustworthy with you. Making the nice selections of carrying a masks, staying socially distanced. Don’t put your self in an environment to get it, which not solely hurts you individually, however hurts your crew. That’s going to be part of this factor.”

USC can play by means of a little bit of precipitation. However a coronavirus outbreak — and the cancellation that might include it — would nearly assuredly finish the Trojans’ hopes of rivalry for the Faculty Soccer Playoff earlier than they start.

“We’re on the Thursday of Week 1, saying prayers each night time,” Helton mentioned. “Keep wholesome, keep protected, and we proceed to maneuver ahead.”

And so on. 

USC’s anticipated starters ought to have a principally clear invoice of well being heading into the season. Operating backs Markese Stepp (turf toe) and Vavae Malepeai (hamstring) are anticipated to play Saturday, as are edge rusher Drake Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Kana’i Mauga (hamstring). … USC will launch its preliminary depth chart Friday, whereas additionally asserting its captains for the 2020 season. … Six USC gamers have been named to the All-Pac-12 preseason first crew: Jackson, quarterback Kedon Slovis, large receivers Tyler Vaughns and Amon-ra St. Brown, offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker and defensive again Talanoa Hufanga. Punter Ben Griffiths was named to the second crew.

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Instances.



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