Palmeiras Win Florida Cup Legends 5 vs 5
Palmeiras added another trophy to its case beside the 10 Brasilerão and the 1999 Copa Libertadores—Florida Cup Legends 5 vs 5 Champions. With two goals from Rivaldo, World Player of the Year, and spectacular goalkeeping by Bruno Cardoso, Palmeiras came from behind to defeat the MLS Greats 1-0 in a penalty shootout.
In one of the marquee fan events of the Florida Cup, the second edition of the Legends games took place inside Universal Studios and featured some of the best players from Brazil, Colombia, and the United States in a semifinal-final format.
Despite many of the players moving on from their prolific careers, the final was as intense as a cup final at the Palestra, even more so when the Brazilian champions were forced to climb back from a 2-0 deficit. The MLS Greats jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the end of a sluggish first half when Florida Cup CEO Ricardo Villar scored off a Marcelo Saragosa cross. Shortly after the break, the pace picked up, and Bobby Warshaw doubled the MLS lead. Following some outstanding back and forth play, Rivaldo and Clebão scored two quick goals to bring Palmeiras back from defeat. But that’s when the controversy began. Yes, even the Legends 5 vs 5 has issues with VAR. Eddie Johnson’s response appeared to bounce off the crossbar and into the goal but was disallowed after video review. The closing minutes had a number of scraps and missed opportunities as each team searched for a winner, but the game ended tied 2-2 after regulation.
Miguel Gillardo and Bruno traded saves, setting the stage for Rivaldo’s winner. Gillardo pushed Rivaldo’s shot off the post, but the ball trickled over the line, and the Palmeiras players celebrated their victory with their fans. In what was a very impressive performance by the MLS side, Johnson and Jimmy Conrad were exceptional. The two have nearly 100 caps for the U.S. between them. Zinho, Edu Dracena, Amaral, and Denilson were all champions with Palmeiras again.
Palmeiras reached the final after winning the Legends Paulista derby against Corinthians 3-1 in the most passionate game of the day, supported by hundreds of fans, many whom arrived over an hour early to catch a glimpse or a photo with their beloved stars. Rivaldo opened the scoring with a cheeky chip over Corinthians keeper Ronaldo Giovanelli and followed it up with a second several minutes later. Zinho added a third before the break, and Palmeiras went into the half three goals up on their cross-city rivals. Corinthians came out in the second half with more physicality, and the game got a little chippy. Marcelinho, Andre’ Luis, and Falcão had repeated opportunities on goal but Bruno was the difference in the game. Corinthians pulled a goal back late from Ananingo, but it was not enough.
The opening semifinal between MLS and Atlético Nacional had twelve goals, and the MLS pulled away late to win 7-5 and secure their spot in the final. Led by René Higuita, one of the most significant goalkeepers in the modern game, Nacional took the lead on Francisco Najera’s goal. A Nacional own goal brought the MLS back before Juan Pablo Angel scored to make it 2-1. But ensuing goals from Johnson and Conrad, both assisted by Villar, took the MLS side into the half up 3-2. The second half saw a flurry of goals, including Angel’s second, two from Camilo Zúñiga, one from Warshaw, and Johnson’s second, all within a few minutes. MLS pulled away late with two more goals from Saragosa and Villar to earn their spot in the final.