More than 60,000 spectators watched Orlando City SC’s first home match of the new MLS season. There is great euphoria, as superstar Kaká wants to perform well and hopefully catch the eyes of the Selecao selectors. But in the first three matches he was overshadowed by the just 20-year-old Cyle Larin, who proved the outstanding player with three goals.
The new MLS season has been underway for a few weeks, but Orlando’s superstar Kaká is still waiting for his first match. The 33-year-old Brazilian is suffering from a thigh injury, but is expected to be back on the pitch in April. The 2007 World Footballer of the Year wants to perform well in his second season in the North American Professional League since he narrowly missed reaching the play-offs with Orlando City SC last season. He now wants to lead the club into the knock-out stage for the first time. “I am content, but not overjoyed with my season. I want to do better this year. I acclimatised during my first year, got used to my team-mates and the chemistry of the team. All in all I am quite happy with my first season. I should be judged on that in my second season. However, I desperately want to improve my statistics”, Kaká said in an interview with “Eurosport”.
The playmaker, elected the most valuable player of the MLS All Star Games, was called up once again to the Brazilian national team. Thus his courageous step to the USA was rewarded.“I am not here to end my career. I want to be part of this new, thrilling project which could become a real phenomenon. I am always available for the Selecao.” He wants to recommend himself by good performances in Orlando as a very special event is on the horizon -- the Copa America will celebrate its 100th anniversary by being staged outside of South America for the first time ever, on June 3-26 in the USA. Participation in that tournament would provide a career highlight for Kaká. “The Brazilian team will be accommodated in Orlando! It would be great to play a match here with the Selecao. Orlando’s inhabitants can enjoy Brazilian football. I don’t yet know whether I can be part of it. But naturally I would love to play the Copa America in the USA.”
As many South Americans, particularly Brazilians, live in Orlando, there is great football enthusiasm. About 32,000 spectators on average were registered at Orlando’s home matches during the first season. And the fans enjoyed an incredible spectacle at this season’s first home match. In front of 60,147 spectators at the Citrus Bowl Orlando were trailing 2-0 against Salt Lake City, but achieved a much acclaimed 2-2 draw with late goals by Cyle Larin (90th+4) and Adrian Winter (90th+5) in added time. A 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire followed, as well as a respectable 1-0 win at title contenders New York City FC, where new coach Patrick Viera has such stars as Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa in his squad.
But the current man of the MLS is Kaká’s young team-mate Cyle Larin who, after his goal against Salt Lake City, also scored against Chicago. In form striker David Accam equalised. Larin then netted the winner in New York. The 20-year-old Canadian, drafted as number one in 2015 and elected Rookie of the Year last season, trained as a pupil during various exchange programmes with youth teams of the German Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen, Hertha BSC Berlin and VfL Wolfsburg. In 2015 he rejected offers from Europe in favour of a move to Orlando. He enjoys a high reputation in the USA, captain Kaká included: “Cyle had an incredible season, with his 17 goals and his notable team spirit. He has constantly improved his level of performance during the entire year. I am hoping that the current season will be as special as the previous one for him.”
With his three goals in the first three matches Larin sent a clear signal that he is willing to even trump his last year statistics. And when Kaká finally returns to the pitch, Larin will receive additional support -- passes of a high standard.