French outlet Le Progres is reporting that OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe has opted to not participate in the upcoming NWSL Challenge Cup. The report says 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,” said OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti in the report (translated from the original in French). “She will be greatly missed by the team and also by women’s football.”
The rest of the team, with the exception of Spanish international defender Celia Jimenez Delgado, has traveled to Missoula, Mont. to continue their preseason preparations using the University of Montana’s athletics facilities. Celia is expected to join the team in Montana early next week. The NWSL Challenge Cup will take place in Salt Lake City from June 27 to July 26, with OL Reign’s first game on June 30 against Sky Blue FC.
Ride of the Valkyries has reached out to the team for comment on this report, but did not receive a response prior to publication. We will update this report if and when we hear back.