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The Orlando Pride Have Pulled Out Of The NWSL Challenge Cup Due To Positive COVID-19 Tests

The NWSL is set to be the first U.S. team sports league to return to the field when they begin the month-long Challenge Cup this weekend in Utah, but they will now be without an entire team for that competition as the Orlando Pride announced on Monday they would be voluntarily withdrawing from the competition due to positive COVID-19 tests by players and staff.

According to the Pride’s release, an undisclosed number of players and staff members tested positive, and while all were asymptomatic they were withdrawing from the competition to help protect their players and staff, those they live with, as well as the other teams in 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,” said Orlando Pride EVP Amanda Duffy. “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.”

“While we were all looking forward to seeing the Pride return to the field, we are unfortunately facing a decision that is necessary and in the best interest for the health of our players and staff. The decision goes far beyond just the positives, but also taking into consideration roommates or partners,” said Daryl Osbahr, M.D., 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.”

The Orlando area has seen a significant spike in recent weeks after the state of Florida has rapidly expanded its re-opening plan, and hopefully the players and staff that tested positive will remain asymptomatic. The Pride have shut down their training facility and will have it cleaned and sterilized, but it gives an indication of just how perilous all of the return to play plans are once testing begins and the scope of the pandemic’s effects are realized.

The NWSL has yet to issue an official statement on the Pride’s withdrawal, but will surely offer an update to scheduling for the tournament relatively soon.