NWSL released player rosters for Challenge Cup which begins Saturday, June 27. Multiple players and the entire Orlando Pride team will be missing from action.
On Monday, Orlando Pride released a statement that they would be withdrawing from the Challenge Cup due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases.
Six players and four staff members tested positive after some players visited an Orlando bar recently. The Athletic’s Meg Lineham first reported the exposure.
The NWSL then announced on June 18 that only one player had tested positive. The league didn’t identify a specific club at the time. Nor have they named the players and staff to test positive.
Pride teammates Ashlyn Harris and Sydney Leroux Dwyer expressed their frustrations on social media.
“Sitting in a testing drive up on a few hours of sleep,” Harris wrote in an Instagram Story. “Sleeping on opposite sides of the house from my wife. My teammates and staff separated from their family. I’m disappointed, sad, scared, frustrated and all of the things in between.”
Leroux Dwyer tweeted, “I’m heartbroken. The majority of our team & staff worked our asses off to put us in the best position to play the game we love again.
“Not just for ourselves but for our families, friends, fans & our city. Good luck to the teams going to UT. Wish we were there with you. Stay safe.”
USWNT Stars Opting Out
Other league players will also be missing from the Challenge Cup. Sky Blue FC will feel the most impact with three players, Carlie Lloyd (knee), Mallory Pugh (hip), and Caprice Dydasco (ACL) remaining home.
“I have unfortunately picked up an injury while I was at home training,” Lloyd told skybluefc.com. “I was optimistic about being able to return in time for the NWSL Challenge Cup, but my injury is going to require more time to recover.”
More players have additionally chosen to opt-out of the tournament due to personal reasons.
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) gave birth on May 7th and will be staying home with baby Charlie Elena Carrasco.
Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) and Christen Press (Utah Royals) both expressed concerns due to the coronavirus and will be sitting out. This included Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign) who’s coach Farid Benstiti announced on June 3rd that she would not be participating.
“It’s a shame,” Benstiti said to Le Progres. “I understand her motivations but I’m disappointed and frustrated that she won’t be with us to take part in the tournament. Megan is important for the group and we would’ve been able to create something really important with the club if she joined the group.”
A revised schedule has been released after the Orlando Pride withdrawal. They were originally slated to play the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday.
The NWSL leads the way as the first American team sport to return following the pandemic. It will provide the necessary education for other leagues to return.
Everyone, including players and organisations will have to uphold their responsibility when it comes to health and safety.