NWSL - Players kneeling - Challenge Cup

NWSL players keel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement ahead of Challenge Cup opener

The NWSL became the first U.S. team sport to return to action when the Challenge Cup officially got underway with the North Carolina Courage bagging a 2-1 victory over the Portland Thorns.

The first highlight of the match came before a ball was kicked as both teams kneeled during the national anthem in a pregame show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Watch that pregame moment and other highlights below: 

The game featured a dose of late-game drama as Debinha scored the opener for North Carolina in the 75th minute, only for Portland's Simone Charley to equalize five minutes later. But Courage forward Lynn Williams found a late winner in second-half stoppage time.

Each of the eight participating teams will play four matches in the preliminary round after which the eight clubs are then seeded for the single-elimination quarterfinals. The Orlando Pride withdrew earlier this week due to the results of COVID-19 testing prior to traveling.

The Challenge Cup will continue on Saturday as the Chicago Red Stars take on the Washington Spirit before resuming on Tuesday when the Houston Dash take on Utah Royals FC and OL Reign face off against Sky Blue FC.

Check out the full schedule here and find more information about the tournament here.