The Orlando Pride announced that they are withdrawing from the upcoming NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah airing on CBS and CBS All Access. The club made an announcement after six players and four staff members recently tested positive for COVID-19. The NWSL Challenge Cup is scheduled to start on Saturday, and the league recently reworked its schedule for the tournament as a result.
The tournament will start with the North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns FC on CBS at 12:30 p.m. ET and then Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit at 10 p.m. ET on CBS All Access.
The club also revealed that all 10 people who tested positive were asymptomatic, but believed that it was in the team's best interests to withdraw from the Challenge Cup. A second round of tests will be conducted to keep with NWSL protocol.
"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," Pride executive vice president Amanda Duffy said in a statement. "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 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 added. "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."
Sydney Leroux, Ali Krieger, Marta, and Emily Sonnett are just some of the Orlando players that now won't be suiting up for the tournament. Alex Morgan also plays for the Pride, but announced that she wouldn't be playing in the Challenge Cup after giving birth last month.
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.— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) June 22, 2020
The state of Florida has been hit fairly hard by the coronavirus pandemic over the last week. The Florida Department of Health reported that the state surpassed 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.