The Orlando Pride have taken the soccer scene by surprise Monday afternoon after announcing that the club has withdrawn from the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah after several players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the NWSL, six players and four staff members tested positive.
The Pride were scheduled to kick off in their first game of the tournament this Saturday against the Chicago Red Stars, but have instead opted to forego the competition altogether in the best interests of both the club and the rest of the league.
“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.”
All players and staff that tested positive were asymptomatic and will go into quarantine for the next 14 days and will continue to be tested.
“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 Pride, which train about 45 minutes of Orlando City‘s Kissimmee training complex, also assured that none of the team’s players or staff have been in contact with Lions players and staff — that, of course, does not account for the fact that Pride forward Sydney Leroux is married to Orlando City’s Dom Dwyer, likely meaning those two have been together in recent days, but it’s also not known if Leroux is one of the several positive tests.
We’ll update this story has more information becomes available.