It’s not Paris, Barcelona or Milan, but former football champion Ronaldinho can be back on the pitch weekday, helping launch a skilled team in Las Vegas.
The Brazilian striker Ronaldinho de Assis Moreira, 36, will play for the Las Vegas town FC, the valley’s latest pursuit of a professional football team, at 5 p.m. today in an exhibition match against visiting Miami United FC at sam Boyd sports stadium.
With a roster of 18- and 19-year-olds from Las Vegas and across the world, the club is set to start out its first season within the fifth-tier United Premier football League on june one, said club founder Marcio Granada, a Brazilian businessman and former player.
Ronaldinho, who scored 106 goals over 10 seasons in Europe’s prime 3 leagues and diode Brazil to the 2002 FIFA World Cup championship, was a “logical choice” to help bring the thrill to city in today’s friendly, Granada same.
“We saw a void and an chance here,” Granada same, “We want this to be a football town.”
In a Friday press conference, Ronaldinho — seated beside Granada, former Brazilian soccer player Zico, and current star Adriano of Miami United FC — said today’s game was a “one-time commitment,” but that he’d be open to negotiating with the team for future games.
“I adore Las Vegas, I have great friends here,” he said in his native Portuguese. “We’ll see what happens.”
Granada same the team paid the Brazilian star over $200,000 to play in the game, but wouldn’t share an actual figure. Ronaldinho, who flew into the depression on Thursday, said he had not trained with or even met his metropolis teammates.
He said taking part in with up-and-comers nearly 20 years younger than him would be “motivating.”
“They’re hungry and they have something to prove,” he said.
Official rosters for either team were not made obtainable before Saturday’s game, but Granada same six Las Vegas town FC players are from Southern Nevada. The rest of the roster is created of players from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Malta.
Also in attending at Friday’s press conference was Rafael Moreno, a Las Vegas electrician and amateur football coach who co-founded the team earlier this year with Granada.
Moreno said the “years-long” effort to begin a team in Las Vegas was created official once the founders stricken a handle Ronaldinho. He hopes momentum from today’s game will translate into a stable skilled football team in Las Vegas.
“The talent and potential is here, we simply didn’t have the platform,” Moreno said. “We’re building soccer here and we’re creating progress.”