Multiple sources tell The Equalizer that the five Orlando Pride players who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday tested negative on Tuesday, which could mean that Sunday’s tests were false positives. At least one more round of testing would be needed to confirm results.
The Orlando Pride announced on Monday that they were withdrawing from the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup, which begins Saturday, because at least six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. One player initially tested positive last week, and five more tested positive from a round of tests on Sunday, according to the NWSL — thought the Pride . But the results of those five players are now in question after the latest round of tests produced negative results.
The Pride issued the following statement: “On Thursday, Orlando Pride received test results for the second round of COVID-19 testing for the team’s players and staff, which indicated inconsistencies from previous tests. The Club will conduct a third round of testing as soon as possible in order to come to conclusive results for all members of the team, both staff and players. The Club will provide a further update once all necessary testing is completed.”
Multiple sources said earlier Thursday that the Pride were trying to figure out if there was still a way to play at the Challenge Cup, but a team spokesperson confirms “that is not feasible” and the team remains withdrawn from the tournament. The Challenge Cup begins on Saturday in Utah, and the NWSL already re-worked the original schedule to adjust to an eight-team tournament.
An NWSL spokesperson said the league is monitoring the situation.
Anyone getting on a plane to Utah must first test negative, and then players and staff must also produce a negative test in Utah with enough time to get the result — which could take up to 48 hours — before stepping on a field for a game. There also needs to be enough time between tests to make sure they don’t overlap. Players from the other eight teams would also need to be comfortable with Orlando returning to the competition, which seems unlikely.
The Orlando Pride use a different testing lab than the one being used by the NWSL in Utah for the duration of the Challenge Cup.
Orlando’s positive tests came after multiple groups of players had gone out to social establishments such as bars over the past two weeks, per multiple sources, though it is impossible to know the exact point of contraction for the original introduction of the virus into the team environment. Florida began legally opening bars, pubs and nightclubs, with certain capacity restrictions, in early June.
NWSL’s testing protocols, which include what to do after positive tests are confirmed, can be found here.