The North Carolina Courage are entering their participation in the Fall Series without some key players, including star winger Crystal Dunn. The club announced on Wednesday that Dunn, Abby Erceg, Jaelene Daniels, Kristen Hamilton, and Jessica McDonald have all opted out due to concerns over the coronavirus. Goal keeper Stephanie Labbé has elected to opt out following the NC Courage’s Sept. 19 match.

For the Courage, it’s a blow not having some key contributors as their backline takes a big hit with Erceg and Daniels — and outside back Merritt Mathias working her way back from an ACL injury. On top of that, star Sam Mewis joined Manchester City last month. Dunn is one of the stars of the team with her speed and versatility, and these losses likely knock  the reigning NWSL league champs off the top of the list for the new NWSL Verizon Community Shield this season.

After a successful summer tournament with the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah, the league kicked off the Fall Series last Saturday. Having key players opt out doesn’t come as a surprise though. Numerous key players, like Megan Rapinoe, opted out of the Challenge Cup.

The Fall Series will run for seven weeks until Oct. 17 and features all nine teams playing in three-team “pods.” Each team will play four games. There will be a televised NWSL Game of the Week on CBS every Saturday in September, as well as a final match on Oct. 17. CBS Sports Network will carry games three Saturdays in October, and CBS All Access will exclusively stream four games in addition to the CBS broadcast coverage in September. Additionally, Twitch will stream seven games globally, including in the United States, and every game internationally.


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