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The 2020 NWSL Challenger Cup is just a few weeks away and while we are eager to see live soccer back once again, there will be a big, pink piece of the tournament missing from the pitch: Megan Rapinoe.
According to the report, Rapinoe, along with other unnamed US internationals, is concerned both by potential spread of COVID-19, as well as the compressed schedule and increased risk of injury. All NWSL players were given the option of abstaining from participation in the tournament, with no impact on their contract status or benefits.
I understand her motivations, but I am disappointed and frustrated that she is not with us to compete in this tournament. Megan is important to the group and we could have accomplished something important with the club, if she had joined the rest of the group. She will be greatly missed by the team and also by women's football. - OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti in the report (translated from the original in French).
According to the league, all players will be tested for COVID-19 before leaving for Utah and will then be screened regularly during the month-long tournament. Players from all nine teams will train and live at two Salt Lake City-area hotels. Games will be played without fans at two venues in suburban Salt Lake City.
The Reign drew the eighth seed in this nine-team, 25-game tournament in Utah and will begin preliminary play on June 30th vs. New Jersey Sky Blue FC.
The Challenger Cup begins on June 27.
Be sure to check out the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fyre and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers.