A trio of NWSL and U.S. Women’s National Team stars added their names to the list of absentees for the league’s upcoming Challenge Cup.
Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, and Christen Press will all not be traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend for the start of the summer tournament. The news comes a day after the Orlando Pride withdrew their squad from the tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
“Megan let us know that she has decided not play in the tournament,” Seattle Reign CEO Bill Predmore said in a statement. “Like all NWSL players, she was given the option to participate. Farid and I would love to have her with the club for the tournament, but we understand and respect her decision.”
Heath and Press cited COVID-19 safety-related concerns as their reason to not play with their respective teams.
“Although I want to be on the field with my teammates doing what I love because of the uncertainty and risks created by COVID-19, I have chosen not to participate in NWSL Challenge Cup,” Heath said. “I can’t even express how much I am looking forward to my next game in Providence Park.”
“Regrettably, given the uncertainty created by COVID-19, I must elect not to participate in this tournament,” said Press. “I know how fortunate I am to be able to make this choice. I have enormous respect and gratitude for those who do not have the luxury to choose whether to report to work, including our selfless and heroic first responders. I look forward to supporting my teammates during the tournament in Utah.”
Orlando Pride and fellow USWNT players Emily Sonnett, Ali Krieger, and Ashlyn Harris will not participate in the month-long competition, as well as Sydney Leroux and Brazilian star striker Marta. Alex Morgan was already expected to miss Challenge Cup to care for her newborn child.
Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh round out the USWNT players who will not be featured when soccer in America returns, although their omissions from the Sky Blue FC roster are due to injuries. Lloyd is dealing with a left knee injury while Pugh injured her right hip in the offseason.
Despite several USWNT players missing the competition, many others will be taking part with their respective clubs. Morgan Brian, Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Adrianna Franch, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Allie Long, Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Andi Sullivan all will take part.
The North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns kick off the Challenge Cup on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EST. on CBS.