Orlando Pride withdraw from NWSL Challenge Cup due to COVID-19 cases

Tribune Content Agency

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Pride will not participate in the NWSL Challenge Cup after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

The NWSL announced the number of cases, but a club source indicated some of the test results were inconclusive. However, the Pride had to quarantine such a large group of athletes and staff that they could not compete in the NWSL tournament that kicks off Saturday.

All of the individuals who tested positive were asymptomatic, according to a club news release. The Pride were previously set to depart on Wednesday for Utah to face off against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday in the opening day of the tournament.

“This was obviously a difficult and disappointing outcome for our players, our staff and fans, however this is a decision that was made in order to protect the health of all involved in the Challenge Cup,” Orlando Pride executive vice president Amanda Duffy said in a news release. “While we were all excited to see the 2020 Pride on the field this weekend, our priority is now making sure our players and staff safely recover and providing any support wherever and however possible.”

The players and staff members who tested positive have been isolated for 14 days and will continue to receive medical attention. Housemates and other team members who have come into close contact with the affected individuals will continue to be monitored for symptoms and undergo testing.

The NWSL will update its tournament format now to adjust to only eight participating teams.

“The health and safety of our players and staff is our number one priority and our thoughts are with those players and staff fighting this infection, as well as the entire club in Orlando that have been impacted as a result,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said. “We’re all obviously disappointed, but in the current environment, this is a situation that we have prepared for and we will now adjust our plans and schedules to reflect the circumstances.”

None of the affected members of the Pride came into direct contact with players or coaching staff from Orlando City or Orlando City B. Both teams will be able to continue with training and preparation for upcoming matches without interruption.

“The decision goes far beyond just the positives, but also taking into consideration roommates or partners,” said Dr. Daryl Osbahr, team doctor for Orlando Pride and chief of sports medicine for Orlando Health. “I commend the club for its diligence and reaction following the initial positive test, as well as how the safety of players and staff was prioritized during this difficult and uncertain time. However the guidelines and process that are put in place, including the important protocols and timelines for contact tracing, make it logistically impossible for the Club to participate in the Challenge Cup in Utah.”


©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.