NWSL's Washington nightmare continues: Spirit game at Portland postponed after Covid-19 outbreak

The NWSL's nightmare season continued when Saturday's match between the Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit, expected to draw one of the biggest crowds of the 2021 season, was postponed after four Washington players tested positive for Covid-19.

The announcement came less than nine hours before kickoff.

The Athletic's Pablo Iglesias Maurer was the first to report the postponement and Spirit's four positive COVID cases. Multiple sources told him that the club has “multiple” unvaccinated players.

There has been no report on whether the players who tested were unvaccinated players or vaccinated players who suffered breakthrough cases or on the results of any contact tracing -- how did the outbreak begin.

Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson tweeted a personal apologize to his club's fans --the first-place Thorns have averaged more than 15,000 fans a game since July -- and added that the 'frustration level is very high given the facts as I understand them."
The match is the NWSL's first 2021 regular-season game to be postponed due to Covid-19. In 2020, the Orlando Pride missed the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah because of Covid-related issues.

The Spirit has been plagued by off-the-field issues this season. Many have come to a head in the last four weeks.

On Aug. 11, Spirit head coach Richie Burke stepped aside and then was suspended, pending an investigation into allegations made in a Washington Post report that he had verbally and emotionally abused players.

The Post has since reported of in-fighting within the ownership group between co-owner and CEO Steve Baldwin and Y. Michele Kang, who joined the ownership group in 2020.

On Thursday, Ben Olsen, who played at D.C. United for 12 seasons and served as the head coach of the MLS club for the next 11 seasons, was named the Spirit president
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