The National Women’s Soccer League made its return to the pitch on Saturday.

And what a return it was.

Play began on Saturday for the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah, featuring eight teams vying for the inaugural trophy in the top women’s league in the world.

And the first day of soccer drew record setting numbers.

Prior to play, a majority of the athletes on the field knelt during the national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, players donned Black Lives Matter shirts during warmups.

The 2020 NWSL season is not like a traditional season. This year, the league is implementing an 8-team, round robin-style tournament called the Challenge Cup.

In all, the tournament will consist of 23 games at Zions Bank Stadium in Utah, culminating with the tournament final on July 26, 2020.

The NWSL became the first professional team sports league to return to action in the U.S.

In Saturday’s first match, the North Carolina Courage defeated the Portland Thorns FC, 2-1, in a rematch of the 2017 and 2018 championship games, both won by North Carolina.

In the second matchup of the day, the Washington Spirit claimed victory over the Chicago Red Stars, 2-1.

Over the course of a little over two weeks, each team will match up against four NWSL opponents, also known as the “Preliminary Round,” which began on June 27.

Beginning on July 13, the top eight teams – which will equal all of the teams due to the Orlando Pride’s withdrawal from the Challenge Cup – will enter the knockout round, where it becomes a single-elimination tournament.

In the preliminary round, the second of eight match days will take place Tuesday, June 30.

Former and current soccer players, as well as fans took to Twitter over the weekend and earlier this week to express their excitement over the NWSL’s return and the players’ display of unity.

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