By: Greg Oldfield special to the Florida Cup
Flamengo are the Champions of the Florida Cup Legends 5 vs 5 Tournament after a penalty kick shootout-win over São Paulo. The tournament was held Tuesday at the Universal Orlando Fan Fest stadium and showcased star players from all four competing clubs.
The spirited All-Brazilian final ended in a 5-5 tie after regulation. Playing in their second of back-to-back games, Renato Abreu and Fellype Gabriel played brilliantly all afternoon for the champions. Gabriel tied the match late with a beautiful scoop over Sao Paulo’s goalkeeper Lucas. Other members of Flamengo’s winning team included João, Zinho, Thiago Coimbra, and Bruno Coimbra.
If the atmosphere at the Fan Fest stadium was a preview for this week’s matches, then the Orlando community is in for a tremendous week of soccer. On a warm, sunny afternoon, it was perfect weather to kick-off the Florida Cup festivities. Fans had the opportunity for photos with some of their club’s heroes, and the arrival of Zico during the start of the São Paulo-Ajax match spurred the Flamengo faithful into wild cheers and passionate songs. The players paused for photos on their way toward the field, stopping at each group until every picture was taken. Parents hoisted their kids up to see their heroes, but the smiles on their parents’ faces may have been just as big, if not bigger. Raí also drew a boisterous ovation. The fans serenaded him upon entering the stadium and continued to shout his name whenever he came near the side of the field or touched the ball. The Fan Fest stadium was filled to maximum capacity, including four or five-people deep all the way around.
São Paulo were led by Denilson, who is still explosive going forward, and Falcão, who had a touch like the cotton candy sold nearby. The pair combined for four of the five goals in the final. The other goal came from Lugano, who steamrolled through opponents with the ferocity of a player preparing for the Copa Libertadores. If any club is looking for a center back in the transfer window, it needs to sign Diego Lugano today! Raí and Ivan Rocha were also instrumental in Flamengo’s run to the final.
Flamengo reached the finals with a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, whose team members included Fredi Bobic, Oka Nikolov, Charly Körbel, Pavel Pardo, Cristoph Preuss, and Uwe Bindewald. São Paulo made it to the finals after their 5-4 victory against Ajax, who were joined on the sidelines by the entire senior team in a powerful demonstration of solidarity. Edwin van der Sar played in goal for Ajax, and his presence in a six-feet-by-six-feet goal appeared a little unfair. Ajax team members included Aron Winter, Mario Melchiot, Richard Witschge, and former American international John O’Brien. O’Brien, who Landon Donovan once called the best soccer player in the U.S., was one of the first American players to train in a European academy system.
Earlier in the day, Florida Cup officially kicked off with the introduction at the Fan Fest stadium that included four players from the represented teams along with Universal Talent. Ajax’s Matthijs De Ligt, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Timmy Chandler, Flamengo’s Juan, and São Paulo’s Hernanes all gathered in the center of the Fan Fest stadium then took pictures with their fans.
Tuesday was a tremendous day for fans to see the stars of today and the stars of yesterday. But on the field, there was very little indication that the legends’ playing years are behind them.# # #