The 2017 Florida Cup is underway. The Florida Cup is an annual early-year tournament, featuring some of the best clubs in Europe and South America. in the event, clubs represent their countries in a format similar to the Davis Cup in tennis.
The Florida Cup has become the largest annual sporting event in Florida after only two editions with live broadcasted matches to 171 countries in 2016, a number expected to be broken in 2017. The event this year brings 12 clubs from seven different countries, totaling a fan base of over 100 million fans.
The Tournament opened with a halftime Florida Cup player appearance at the Amway Center where the Orlando Magic faced the Houston Rockets on Friday. The players tried their skills at a three point and half court contest. Let’s just say, the need to stick to playing on the pitch.
Saturday kicked off a Fan Fest featuring 16 days of entertainment, music, food and more – all in celebration of the beautiful game. Nightly entertainment will be provided by celebrity DJ’s, musical acts and a special 60-minute concert at the final night of Florida Cup Fan Fest by the Brazilian-born Top 25 DJ in the world, Alok, at the I-Drive 360 Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. A full schedule of acts is available at www.floridacup.com/fanfest.
Tournament play kicked into action in chilly weather on Sunday with a double-header at Al Lang Stadium, a transformed baseball stadium that sits on the edge of Tampa Bay. in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The tournament’s opening match featured Argentine powerhouse Club Estudiantes de la Plata with the return of former Manchester United and national team legend Juan Sebastián Verón, against top Bundesliga club and major UEFA Champions League contenders Bayer 04 Leverkusen, led by Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. Several thousand spectators, many of whom were on hand to see “Chicharito”.
The game would finish 1-1 after 90 minutes, bringing things into an automatic penalty shootout, where Bayer defeated Estudiantes, 4-2 on spot kicks.
- Stefan Kiessling (Bayer): Goal —- Matias Aguirregaray (EST): Miss
- Charles Aranguiz (Bayer): Goal —- Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (EST): Goal
- Admier Mehmedi (Bayer): Miss (saved) — Julian Marchoni (EST): Goal
- Julian Brandt (Bayer): Goal — Lucas Diarte (EST): Miss (saved)
- Alexsandar Dragovic (Bayer): Goal
With the draw, each club picked up a point in the points-based FC Challenge series, while Leverkusen grabbed an extra point for the penalty victory.
Match 2 of the double header featured Germany’s VFL Wolfsburg facing the home team Tampa Bay Rowdies. Robert Herrmann scored twice as German Bundesliga club took a 2-0 victory.
The Rowdies’ starting lineup featured six signed players and five prospective players in its first preseason game. With its main squad training in Spain, Wolfsburg also played substitutes and fielded 14 players with youth national team experience.
Herrmann converted a free kick from just outside the box, beating tryout goalkeeper Kyle Morton to put Wolfsburg ahead 1-0 in the sixth minute. Herrmann scored again in the 41st minute.
The matches resume play on Wednesday with Bayer 04 Leverkusen squaring off against Clube Atlético Mineiro from Brazil at the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex at 7 pm.
On Thursday, VFL Wolfsburg faces Brazil’s Esporte Clube Bahia, also at the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex at 7 pm.
For schedule , times and tickets, got to www.floridacup.com