Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez didn't score in his Florida Cup debut, but there was plenty of soccer to talk about on Sunday night, as Bayer Leverkusen and Santa Fe opened up the tournament, with the German club winning 1-0 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
An 83rd-minute red card in the first game of the tournament-opening doubleheader saw Santa Fe's Sebastian Salazar sent off, forcing the Colombian team to play the remaining minutes of the match a man down. That played right into the hands of Bayer, which capitalized in the 87th minute when Stefan Kießling tapped in the ball in from a few feet out for the game-winner. Kießling also scored the winner in last year's Florida Cup opening match in a win over Fluminense.
The full house at ESPN, most of whom came to see Mexican star striker Chicharito, was loud and lively from the first to final whistle.
The very pro-Chicharito crowd was treated to 45 minutes of the Bayer star, who only attempted one shot on goal, a header from about 10 yards out in the 26th that sailed over the crossbar. A few minutes earlier, boos and jeers rained down from the crowd when Hernandez was taken down on a tackle just outside of the penalty area, drawing a free kick for Bayer.
In a first half dominated mainly by Bayer Leverkusen, one of the best chances came in the 37th minute, when Admir Mehedi ripped a wide angled shot inside the box, sending it into the side netting.
The second half continued with much of the same trend, as Bayer contained most of the possession in the attacking third of the field.
Things got chippy between the two sides in the final 10 minutes of the match, with hard fouls going on throughout the contest, starting with Salazar's red, and two more yellow cards to follow against both clubs.
The win puts Leverkusen on the right foot to start the tournament, as they captured all three points.
Here are your match highlights:
Game 2: FC Schalke vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The second match-up of the doubleheader saw even more goals and German domination, as FC Schalke easily defeated the Strikers, 2-0.
Fort Lauderdale, which included former Orlando City USL player Guiseppe Gentile, opened preseason camp a few weeks early to compete in this competition, and it showed throughout the match.
Schalke dominated throughout, making it difficult for the Strikers to gain any traction, and took an early lead in the 30th minute when Argentine striker Franco di Santo pounced on a loose ball in the box to put the German side up 1-0.
Schalke doubled its lead in the second half on a goal from Leroy Sane, assisted by Dutch national team striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who entered into the match in the second half, and nearly scored a goal of his own minutes earlier.
The tournament continues Wednesday, when Schalke takes on Brazilian runners-up Atletico Mineiro at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, at 6:30 p.m. while Bayer Leverkusen matches up against Brazilian side SC Internacional at 8:30 p.m. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Here are the highlights from the evening's second match: