As part of preseason festivities leading up to Orlando City SC’s season-opener on Sunday, the club hosted its first-ever “Kids vs. Pro” match. In Orlando City’s new soccer-specific stadium, 100 kids (50 kids per half) took the pitch to face off against players from all three teams of the club.
Despite the Pros’ superior skill, the Kids left Orlando City Stadium with a 7-3 win after two 20-minute halves Thursday evening. Entry was $10 per guest, and all proceeds went to the Orlando City Foundation.
“That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Orlando City Foundation president Kay Rawlins said after the match. “That was everything I thought it was gonna be and more. It was just amazing… I saw this video years and years ago of a team in Spain doing the same thing with 200 kids. So, when we first thought about doing it, we did have to talk to Matt. And if you’ve met Matt, our groundsperson, having 200 kids on the field is not something. But 100, he was okay with that.”
The Kids struck first in the sixth minute when a stampede of their forwards swarmed the box, leaving Pros starting goalkeeper Joe Bendik helpless in their wake. But no more than three minutes later did City forward Carlos Rivas score an equalizer, capitalizing on what has already been a quality preseason for the Colombian.
“It was definitely a lot of fun,” Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley said after the match. “Getting to interact with all those kids, it’s definitely a really cool and special way to get with the community. So, it was a lot of fun.”
Said Pressley on how to defend against 50 strikers: “You know, you kinda just kinda have to go out there—there’s no game plan. I think my biggest fear was trying not to hurt any of these kids on accident.”
In the 10th minute, No. 47 for the Kids scored the team’s second go-ahead goal of the night. An 11th-minute goal by the Kids put the Pros in a 3-1 deficit, but, in that same minute, Rivas scored his second and final goal of the match to make it 3-2.
Unfortunately for the Pros, Rivas was issued a red card for a “hard” foul in the 20th minute. That resulted in the Pros only scoring one more goal the rest of the night.
The Kids were not done scoring before halftime. Somehow, in the swarm of children, the referee called for a penalty kick. That pitted City team captain Ricardo Kaká‘s son in a one-on-one matchup with Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Despite Bledsoe’s diving effort, Kaká’s son made it a 4-2 match entering halftime.
Goals by the Kids in the 26th, 33rd and 35th minutes helped keep the game out of reach for the Pros. At one point during the second half, City midfielder Servando Carrasco put on the goalie mitts, resulting in the Kids’ seventh and final goal in the 35th minute.
Goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. found his way out of the net Wednesday night, scoring a 36th-minute score to put the match at its final score.
“[It felt] [r]eally, really good [to beat the Pros],” 8-year-old Gabriela Ferry said after the match.
Ferry, who wore the No. 9 shirt, had one thing to say to the Pros after the Kids’ win: “I beat ya.”
Orlando City opens its third Major League Soccer season with a home-opening matchup against New York City FC. Orlando City B travels to play the Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 25 to open the United Soccer League season. The Orlando Pride open their season on April 15 with a road game against the Portland Thorns.
GK – Aubrey Bledsoe (Orlando Pride)
GK – Joe Bendik (Orlando City SC)
GK – Earl Edwards (Orlando City SC)
DEF – Toni Pressley (Orlando Pride)
DEF – Jon Spector (Orlando City SC)
DEF – Victor “PC” Giro (Orlando City SC)
DEF – Zach Carroll (Orlando City B)
DEF – Scott Thomsen (Orlando City B)
DEF – José Aja (Orlando City SC)
MID – Ricardo Kaká (Orlando City SC)
MID – Jordan Schweitzer (Orlando City B)
MID – Servando Carrasco (Orlando City SC)
MID – Lewis Neal (Orlando City B)
MID – Austin Martz (Orlando City B)
MID – Paul Clowes (Orlando City B)
MID – Matías Pérez García (Orlando City SC)
MID – Antonio Nocerino (Orlando City SC)
FWD – Sarah Hagen (Orlando Pride)
FWD – Christina Burkenroad (Orlando Pride)
FWD – Ben Polk (Orlando City B)
FWD – Joe Gallardo (Orlando City B)
FWD – Carlos Rivas (Orlando City SC)
FWD – Hadji Barry (Orlando City SC)