It had been exactly four months since the last MLS game, when LAFC and the Philadelphia Union battled it out for a 3-3 draw. This season was supposed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the league but it turned out to be a disaster courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the league’s first match in 122 days, Orlando City were able to beat their in-state rivals, Inter Miami, 2-1. This was the first MLS match between two teams from Florida since May 26, 2001, when the Miami Fusion annihilated the Tampa Bay Mutiny 4-0 in Tampa.
The first half for both clubs was rather scrappy but it gave a chance to shake off the rust after not being able to play a competitive match since March. It was The Lions, however, that seemed to look sharper throughout the opening 45 minutes.
Two minutes after the start of the second half, Victor Ulloa delivered a brilliant cross to Juan Agudelo, who was able to find the back of the net.
However, things took a turn for the worse for The Herons as they lost one of their defender’s in a scary moment.
Miami’s Andrés Reyes collided with Orlando’s Dom Dwyer, a former youth player for Norwich City, Staines Town, and King’s Lynn, in the 51st-minute. This caused the Colombian international to have shortness of breath and had to leave the match on a stretcher.
After the match resumed, Orlando City were able to level the score at 1-1 in the 70th-minute, when Nani crossed the ball to Chris Mueller, who was able to score despite the ball touching goalkeeper Luis Robles’ hands.
With 10 minutes of extra-time added on due to Reyes’ injury, The Lions were able to take advantage. Nani, who has won several trophies with Sporting CP, Manchester United, and the Portuguese national team, was able to score in the seventh minute of stoppage time to seal the victory for the hosts.
Although the circumstances are not ideal with the games being played with in front of an empty field at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, fans can be excited to have soccer back in North America. In fact, the MLS has the privilege to be the first men’s pro sports league to return.
See full report on the NWSL return below: