NWSL returns to action with emotional moments at Utah 2020 Challenge Cup

North Carolina Courage Courage (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
North Carolina Courage Courage (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The inaugural match of the tournament kicked off today at Zion’s Bank Stadium. 

The NWSL returned to action on Saturday with a match between the North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns. With the regular season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NWSL is the first team sport in America to return to action via the Utah 2020 Challenge Cup.

The game immediately drew national headlines when the teams came out onto the pitch in “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts during warmups. Both teams starting players all took a knee during the national anthem, as well as most of the players on the bench.

While the first half of the match, which aired on CBS, didn’t see a lot of action, the game heated up in the second half. The Courage, who are favored to win the tournament, opened up scoring with a goal from Brazilian midfielder Debinha in the 75th minute. Five minutes later, the Thorns benefitted off some chaos in front of the net and Simone Charley was able to even the score at 1-1, scoring her first ever NWSL goal.

Lynn Williams, a striker for both the Courage and the U.S. Women’s National Team, scored the game-winning goal for North Carolina in stoppage time.

2020 Challenge Cup: What else is coming up?

On Saturday night, the Washington Spirit and the Chicago Red Stars met for the second match of the tournament. Unlike the earlier game, not all of the players decided to kneel during the national anthem. Casey Short, one of the only Black women on the U.S. Women’s National Team, was moved to tears as she took a knee. Her Chicago Red Stars and USWNT teammate Julie Ertz, who kneeled as well, was also moved to tears as she tried to comfort her friend.


While the inaugural match of the Challenge Cup tournament kicked off on CBS, the remainder of the tournament will be aired on CBS All Access, with the exception of the championship match, which will again air on national television. Some of the upcoming matchups in the preliminary round include Houston Dash vs. Utah Royals on Tuesday at 12:30pm ET, OL Reign vs. Sky Blue FC at 10:00pm ET on Tuesday, Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday at 12:30pm ET, and Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage at 10:00pm ET on Wednesday.

All matches can be seen on CBS All Access.

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