The ACL injury bug continues to hit the NWSL, with the Chicago Red Stars announcing Wednesday that defender Kayla Sharples will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

Sharples went down with the injury during the Red Stars’ match against the Orlando Pride. A key defender on the backline, Sharples had played in every minute of the regular season up until sustaining her injury.

On defense, she had made 41 clearances so far this season, with an 80 percent success rate on her tackles. She’s also made eight interceptions and succeeded on 83.7 percent of her passes.

Sharples made 12 appearances in the A-League while on loan to Adelaide United starting in December.

On Twitter, Sharples said she is “devastated.”

“Thank u to everyone who has reached out, you’ve helped me remain hopeful during this tough time,” she wrote. “If u know me, I love a good comeback story. This injury will fuel me to come back stronger & hungrier than ever.”

ACL injuries have been a storyline this season in the NWSL. Christen Press had been the most recent player to go down with a torn ACL. Before that, Tierna Davidson, Marta, Annika Schmidt, and Mallory Weber all tore their ACLs prior to or at the beginning of the season. Sharples marks the sixth NWSL player this season to have torn their ACL.

Mallory Pugh will return to the pitch for the NWSL Championship game after clearing league COVID-19 protocols.

The Red Stars forward and teammate Kayla Sharples missed the team’s semifinal match against the Portland Thorns due to COVID-19 guidelines. League sources are now confirming that Pugh and Sharples entered COVID-19 protocol after the team’s Nov. 7 quarterfinal, clearing the 10-day isolation window ahead of the NWSL title game.

Sharples spoke out during Chicago’s semifinal, tweeting that she was fully vaccinated with a booster shot, writing, “I’m sad to say that I won’t be able to play in today’s semifinal due to COVID protocols.”

Pugh has not publicly commented on her vaccination status or on the COVID-19 protocol. It has not been confirmed if either player tested positive for COVID-19 or if they were under protocol for exposure.

Coach Rory Dames said on Monday that Pugh and Sharples were symptom-free during their isolation but expressed uncertainty around their participation in the final until just a day before the championship.

NWSL medical protocols outline that if a player tests positive for COVID-19, then they must enter and clear a 10-day quarantine period. If a player does not test positive but was only exposed, then they may return to the team after producing negative tests on day five and day seven of isolation.

The Chicago Red Stars will take on the Washington Spirit in the NWSL Championship at 12 p.m. ET on CBS.

After missing Sunday’s semifinal game due to COVID-19 protocol, the Chicago Red Stars’ Mallory Pugh and Kayla Sharples are questionable for the NWSL championship game on Saturday.

Chicago head coach Rory Dames said after the game that Pugh and Sharples are both “symptom-free” but he does not know whether they will be available next weekend. The Red Stars will meet the Washington Spirit in the final in Louisville after upsetting the Portland Thorns 2-0 on the road.

Pugh and Sharples were first ruled out of the semifinal game this past Saturday after being placed in COVID-19 protocol. Sharples addressed the injury report on social media on Sunday, revealing that she is fully vaccinated against the virus and has received her booster shot.

“I wish I could be with my team today but I have so much belief in them,” the defender wrote.

Forward Kealia Watt is also questionable for the championship game after exiting Sunday’s semifinal early with a knee injury. Dames said he did not yet know the extent of the injury.

The Red Stars take on the Spirit in the NWSL Championship on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

Chicago Red Stars defender Kayla Sharples is focusing on reform over destruction when it comes to the NWSL.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Sharples thanked fans for their support over the past week and responded to recent allegations against former coach Paul Riley that have rocked the league.

“Thank you to all the fans for the outpouring of support this week,” Sharples wrote. “We deeply appreciate you and you are helping us pave the way for change.

“I do want to note that I keep seeing comments about ‘burning down’ the league and this isn’t the answer,” she continued. “The league is worth saving because the players are the league.

“Instead we must fix the leadership, reform the league and stop perpetrating the code of silence through the threat of burning it down. Players should NOT live in fear of the league collapsing because we ask for basic rights of mental and physical safety.”

Last Thursday, The Athletic reported on former NWSL players accusing Riley of sexual coercion and emotional abuse. In the hours after the allegations came to light, the Courage fired Riley and commissioner Lisa Baird resigned. The NWSL, FIFA and US Soccer have each opened investigations into the league’s conduct. The Portland Thorns, who have been directly linked to the scandal, have placed GM Gavin Wilkinson on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.