The Orlando Pride announced on Monday that they have pulled out of the NWSL Challenge Cup due to a number of positive coronavirus tests among the club's players and staff.
With sports in the U.S. still yet to return, the NWSL is set to become the first league to resume with the upcoming tournament, which will be held in Utah.
However, following a number of positive tests, the Pride have opted to withdraw, with players and staff set to isolate for at least 14 days while those that did not test positive will undergo consistent coronavirus testing.
"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.”
The NWSL had recently confirmed the schedule for the Challenge Cup, which was set to include all nine NWSL clubs and run from June 27 to July 26.
Complicating matters is that Orlando is set to play host to the return of MLS, with the MLS is Back tournament set to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, although the continuous surge in coronavirus numbers in Florida will be a concerning trend for MLS ahead of a return to play.
The Pride state that team members did not have any direct interaction with any players or coaching staff from Orlando City SC or Orlando City B.
“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.”