It's no secret that Kaká was Orlando City SC's biggest signing going into its first season in MLS. It's also well known that the former world player of the year is poised to be the star of the team. That being said, many people need to curb their enthusiasm just a bit when it comes to expectations.
Back in 2007, Kaká was voted the world player of the year, winning the Ballon d'Or. He won this award over a younger Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who came in second and third, respectively. This award was eight long years ago and Kaká's knees and body are not quite the same as they used to be. That is not to say that he isn't still extremely talented and will do very well in the league. It's just something to keep in mind when it comes to Kaká playing every game for the full 90 minutes. It's probably not going to happen. With his aging body, it's always a risk for injury if he plays too much, similarly to Thierry Henry's situation in New York. Head Coach Adrian Heath and his staff will have to take some time to figure out how much Kaká can play per game and in which situations.
The past two years Kaká has played in high-level leagues around the world. In 2013 he returned to the club that he had the most success at in his career, AC Milan. Kaká ended up playing in 30 games over the course of the season and scored seven goals. Then in 2014, after being signed by Orlando and loaned out to São Paulo, he played in 19 games and scored only two goals. These statistics may seem disappointing, however, what Kaká brings to Orlando is not necessarily recorded in statistics. His control of the midfield, his ball control, and his keen passing eye are what make him such a special player.
Here's a look at one of his most recent games with São Paulo, in which he scored the game winner.
If there's one thing that you can take from this video it's this: although he's not the same player you would find in highlight videos from back in 2006, Kaká still has those intangibles that made him such a great player for many years. Another thing to take away from this video is the quality runs that he makes towards goal. Surrounding him with guys like Kevin Molino and Brek Shea, those runs can easily turn into goal-scoring opportunities for him, especially early in the season.
The one thing to keep in mind for Kaká for this next year is that he is 32 years old. He is not the same player he was four or five years ago, so it's a bit of a long shot to expect a 15-goal season from him. His game is now more focused on distribution, which means higher assist numbers and more goals for his midfield compatriots. I would say somewhere between 8-12 assists would be more than a fair estimate for Kaká's stat totals next year. One thing is for sure, however. He will have a major impact for Orlando City come the start of the season in three months time.