OPINION: Is Orlando City better without Kaká?


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Kaká has nine goals and five assists in 25 MLS regular season games for Orlando CIty.

Orlando City SC are riding a two-game winning streak going into their matchup with the New York Red Bulls on Friday but the one surprise is that the Lions’ past two wins have come without their superstar Ricardo Kaká on the field.

Orlando has scored four goals in two games without their Brazilian midfielder, but the more telling fact is that the Lions have been outscored 14-2 over the last five games that Kaká has played in. Which leaves me asking the question, is Orlando City better without their highest paid player?

The Lions haven’t’t scored a goal of their own in the last four games that Kaká has played in, with the only time Orlando City got on a score sheet was with an own goal from the Chicago Fire on August 29th. Orlando’s last goal with Kaka on the field came on August 5 when Luke Boden scored in a 4-1 loss to Toronto.

Kaká hasn’t assisted a goal since August 1 when he connected with Cristian Higuita for the Colombians’ first goal of his MLS career. The 33-year-old attacking midfielder hasn’t scored a goal since July 4 against Real Salt Lake, now I know Kaká wasn’t brought in to Orlando to score goals but rather create them but even then he’s only accounted for two assists over the past three months (13 competitive games).

Now Kaká did have a stretch of three in late June – early July where he scored a goal in each game, but the former 2007 World Player of the Year has struggled over the last two months, as has his team who have gone winless over the past five games he’s played in while winning the last two matches that he’s missed due to injury.

Without a doubt Kaká is one of the better technical players in all of the MLS, but you can’t help but wonder if Orlando City doesn’t play with a little more fire when they know their star player isn’t on the team sheet.

You don’t have to look further than the past two results to see at least some sign of this. First Orlando comes out and give Sporting KC a 3-1 loss while the Lions are battling for the sixth and final playoff spot and then a week later take three points on the road with a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire.

Orlando City did suffer a 3-0 loss to the New England Revolution while Kaká was on international duty with Brazil, but in the Lions defense New England are one of the teams battling for the Supporters Shield this season.

The Lions have played with a lot of heart over the past two games and a part of me believes that it could be because the players knew that they each needed to step up to the occasion with their captain out of the lineup.

Outscoring your opponents 5-1 in two games will quiet any questions about the team being fatigued this late in the season. But one thing is for sure and that is that Orlando City haven’t quit just yet and the boost (if you can call it that) and confidence they got from getting six points in crucial games without their star player will be vital down the stretch as the Lions battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The question I posed at the beginning of this article was if Orlando City is better without Kaká on the field, the simple answer to that is “No.” But it is worth acknowledging that the amount of confidence the players gained over the past two games will be key to the development of the team, not just for the end of this season but for next year as young players like Bryan Rochez and Cyle Larin begin to feel more comfortable at the MLS level.

Orlando City should have Kaká back in the lineup on Friday when they travel to New York to take on the Red Bulls.