Ronaldinho, Kaká Showcase Skills Alongside Empire’s Ponce

by Gunnar Berndt

Soccer icons, other celebrities visit Inland Empire for Game of Legends, MASL Style

Ontario, Calif. — Ontario’s Toyota Arena played host to a historic indoor soccer event on Sunday afternoon. The lineup of participants in the Game of Legends, MASL Style boasted Brazilian superstars Ronaldinho and Kaká, ex-Mexico ace Miguel Ponce of the Empire Strykers, and a slew of other celebrities, social media influencers, and current and former athletes. While the Strykers did not host the event, the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) club provided the gameday and video broadcast productions, with Empire announcers Christian Filimon and Jonathan Reimer calling the game live on beIN SPORTS.

The fans in attendance, many of whom sported Brazilian national team jerseys, were treated to a high-scoring affair, as Culture by Mo Ali FC defeated KidSuper FC 18-17.

Led by Iranian former soccer prospect turned coach Mohammed Ali Heydarpour (aka Mo Ali), Culture by Mo Ali FC boasted Kaká alongside Ponce, ex-LA Galaxy man Juninho, and a trio of personalities from other sports in Sasha Vujacic (basketball). Felipe Toledo (surfing), and Leticia Bufoni (skateboarding). The opposition, KidSuper FC, featured artist and influencer Colm Dillane (known as KidSuper) and Ronaldinho as well as Canadian Olympic medalist Lauren Sesselman, another former Galaxy member in Marcelo Sarvas, fellow ex-pros Jeremy Vuolo and Jennifer Muñoz, and Saturday Night Live’s Marcello Hernandez.

While the skills showcased by the two biggest stars, Ronaldinho and Kaká, solicited roars from the crowd on several occasions, the game as a whole offered plenty of entertainment. In addition to quality saves by both netminders (Vuolo and Michael Bolvin), other moments to remember included a goal by Dillane following a pass to himself off the boards, another “KidSuper” tally to finish off a sequence that was initiated by a no-look ball from Ronaldinho and involved one-touch passes by several players, and a rocket underneath the crossbar on a long-range volley from soccer influencer Jelani Enyama.

Vujacic and Ronaldinho each had a brace in the match, and the Brazilian legend’s KidSuper FC teammate Alex Ramos, a soccer skills coach, had a hat trick. However, three other players enjoyed even better attacking outputs, as Dillane bagged four, and Kaká and Heydarpour eached netted five times. With the scores level at 17-17, Kaká fired home the golden goal to complete his quintet of tallies.

A global icon, Ronaldinho is one of the most decorated athletes of all time, having won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards, a Ballon D’Or, a UEFA Champions League, a Copa America, a FIFA World Cup, and a host of other individual honors and titles at both the club and international levels. The now 44-year-old scored 33 times in 97 appearances with Brazil’s senior squad.

Ronaldinho’s long-time Selecao teammate Kaká is close behind in terms of success for club and country. The 42-year-old, who has netted 29 times in 92 caps, counts a FIFA World Player of the Year award, a Ballon D’Or, a UEFA Champions League, and a FIFA World Cup among his long list of recognitions and trophies.

A Chivas de Guadalajara legend, Empire Strykers defender Miguel Ponce helped Mexico to the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, followed by call-ups to El Tri’s senior squad for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.