And for the larger community, it provided an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and support those affected by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School on February 14, when 17 people were killed.
Orlando City hosted Coral Springs United, a travel team with 11 players from MSD, as special guests for Saturday's match.
“We had a chat about that a few weeks ago and thought it would be a really, really cool idea to do that,” said Orlando head coach Jason Kreis. “I can’t speak in particular on whose idea it was. I think we just all have to share credit for that.”
According to club spokeswoman Jacklyn Ramos, it was Kreis’ idea to have the players on the field during pregame warm-ups.
More sights & sounds from today’s event. We can’t thank Orlando City Soccer Club & Adidas enough for all of their hospitality today. CSU is #MSDSTRONG Orlando City Soccer Club is #MSDSTRONG Adidas is #MSDSTRONGPosted by Coral Springs United F.C. - Official on Saturday, March 31, 2018
“I hope that it was a special occasion for them,” Kreis added. “We talked about what would be the right time and, for me, the right time was to do it before the game and to have them down and watch warm-ups and be on the sidelines and get a real feel for how special a place this is.”
Kljestan thought the emotions on Saturday were reciprocal and tied them up all at once.
“Yeah, in many ways today was an emotional day,” said Lions midfielder Sacha Kljestan. “With them coming here, them supporting us, and us supporting them I thought that was pretty cool.
“Obviously what happened at that school was a tragedy and we hope that we could makes some changes in our government and our laws about gun control,” he added. “I think those kids out there have done a great job of getting the March For Our Lives and all of that going on.”
The 2017 MLS assist leader added he was caught up in the emotion by the end of the match.
“I don't know if it was his [Vazquez’s] girlfriend that was sitting in the front row and she was in tears and it kind of brought me in tears a little bit, too,” Kljestan said. “I’m glad we got a win for them today.”