A 97th minute goal from Nani, the Designated Player for Orlando City Soccer Club, ensured a 2-1 win for the formerly “unluckiest team in MLS” in the opening match of the MLS 2020 restart known as the MLS Is Back Tournament.
But the opening goal, and first goal MLS supporters have seen since mid-March, went to Inter Miami’s Juan Agudelo in last moments of the first half as he finished a cross from Victor Ulloa. The 70th minute equalizer for Orlando, courtesy of Chris Mueller, was fueled by a cross from none other than Nani.
As charming as it was seeing the action on a field, finally, the more memorable instances of the evening were in poignant moments of less physical action. The most impactful was the opening ceremony, planned by the Black Players for Change, in which over 100 MLS players demonstrated in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in tribute to George Floyd. It was a reminder, that yes, while MLS was beginning (again) in a bubble that was safer than the outside world, that world was all around the bubble, and within. Some things in life cannot be pushed out of our bubbles. And, while the game went on, and many commented on the surrealism of it all, the reality of the world around it overshadowed the game. The silence. The absence of fans in the stands was an inescapable reality that while the games play on, the pandemic is a truth that no one can wish away in or out of a bubble.
Play on, MLS.
featured image: via MLS