As June rolled into July, Orlando City SC burst onto the Major League Soccer scene in a big way. Ricardo Kaka snapped photos on the jet, waded through throngs of fans at the airport, joined a block party at Wall Street Plaza, and signed what turned out to be the largest contract in MLS history. Not bad for three days' work!
And that's the thing. This wasn't just a soccer team signing a very good player. It was Orlando City's grand entrance to the big leagues.
The Guardian ran the story. USA Today had it as well. For a few days at least, Orlando City was all the soccer world could talk about.
And that was, of course, exactly what owners Phil Rawlins and Flavio Augusto da Silva wanted. No longer could you question whether the plucky USL Pro squad from down south could compete with the talent in MLS. Gone were the fears that disinterested, tight-pocketed ownership could lead Orlando to the same fate of previous Florida MLS franchises.
However, while the casual fan and those on the marketing side of things may perceive Kaka's value primarily as a symbol, Orlando's strongest supporters prefer to focus on the player he'll be on the pitch. Still a bona fide star at Italian giant AC Milan in 2013, City fans hope Kaka will lead the Lions to a playoff berth in their first season, in a league where teams are more and more coming to rely on elite international talents.
The Brazilian great will have every chance on the pitch in 2015 to give those fans what they're looking for. What we can say now for sure though is that the Kaka signing and announcement was truly the greatest moment of 2014 for Orlando City!
Check out the rest of our top 10 Orlando City moments of 2014:
10. Kevin Molino breaks the USL Pro goal-scoring record
9. Postseason USL Pro honors for Molino and Luke Boden
8. Winning top pick in Draft Lottery
7. Molino becomes the club's first ever MLS player signing.
6. Lions acquire Hall, Collin and Okugo on "Major Monday."
5. Brek Shea signed and 2015 home opener announced on "Fantastic Friday."
4. Passing of bill that will augment the funding of Orlando City's new stadium.
3. Breaking ground on Orlando City's new downtown soccer stadium.
2. Orlando wins another regular season title!