Football Ferns star Ali Riley withdrawn from US league after team return positive COVID-19 tests

Ali Riley in action for NZ last year.
Ali Riley in action for NZ last year. Photo credit: Getty

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley's new American team - Orlando Pride - have withdrawn from the US National Women's Soccer League, after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

US-born Riley, who's earned 132 caps for New Zealand, transferred from Germany's Bayern Munich, where her playing time had been scarce, to take up her Florida contract in February.

But only six days out from the first game of a warm-up tournament for the new season, the franchise has announced it will take no part in the upcoming 2020 campaign.

"This was obviously a difficult, and disappointing outcome for our players, our staff and fans," says Orlando Pride executive vice-president Amanda Duffy.

"However, this is a decision that was made in order to protect the health of all involved in the Challenge Cup.

"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."

After repeatedly postponing the start of its scheduled season, the league announced in late May that it would resume play with a tournament in Utah, involving all nine teams.

The Pride said its players and staff received medical attention, and would be isolated for at least 14 days. Those who may have had contact with the affected players and staff have been notified.

The club confirms all players and staff who tested positive are asymptomatic.

The league hasn't announced any plans to reschedule or reformat the upcoming tournament, saying it had prepared for such a scenario.

"The health and safety of our players and staff is our No.1 priority, and our thoughts are with those players and staff fighting this infection, as well as the entire club in Orlando that have been impacted as a result," NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird says. 

"We're all obviously disappointed, but in the current environment, this is a situation that we have prepared for, and we will now adjust our plans and schedules to reflect the circumstances."