Season ticket holders have known now for a while that Orlando City would be hosting at least a couple friendlies this season. Now we all know that the first of those will take place on May 2 in the Citrus Bowl against Brazilian Série A side Ponte Preta.
The game will be included at no additional charge for Orlando City season ticket members, counting as one of the three non-MLS games on the season package. Individual tickets will be available on www.ticketmaster.com startingThursday at 10 a.m.
The São Paulo-based side finished second in Série B in 2014, earning promotion to the top Brazilian division. Though not one of the most dominant teams in recent years, Ponte Preta is actually the oldest professional soccer team in continuous operation in Brazil
"An international friendly against the oldest Brazilian team brings world class entertainment for our fans and yet additional economic benefits for the region," said Orlando City President and Founder, Phil Rawlins. "More Brazilians travel to Orlando than from any other country of origin, and we are excited to offer this exhibition to not only our fans, but tourists visiting the region. This once more proves our commitment to further strengthen Orlando's image as the 'Soccer Capital of the South' both nationally and around the world."
As for Ponte, its motivation for the friendly match echoes similar sentiments from other foreign clubs that have visited the U.S.
"We want [to] explore new horizons, increase our fan base within and outside Brazil, as well as generate new international business opportunities for Ponte," said Gustavo Valio, Ponte's Chief Finance Officer.
In addition to providing a good test for the Lions against a talented South American club, the match will also support Orlando City's bid to host the Copa America Centenario USA in 2016. In this pursuit, the Citrus Bowl will also host a Mexico vs. Costa Rica friendly in June.
The friendly match against Ponte Preta will take place Saturday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Citrus Bowl.