As you probably noticed last night, Orlando City was without star midfielder Kaká and do-it-all midfielder/defender Brek Shea in its 2-1 win over New York City FC.
While the duo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation – am I the only one who thinks a suspension for five cards 32 matches into the season is a bit harsh? – they did get a chance to stay fit while suspended, thanks to international call-ups for Brazil and the United States, respectively.
Neither Kaká nor Shea fared well in their previous stints with their international sides, as Kaká returned from Seleção duty in September with a groin injury that forced him to miss time for OCSC and Shea came back from USMNT duty in June with a sports hernia that would eventually require surgery and keep him out of action for the Lions for over two months.
This time around, things went smoother for the two Lions. Knowing that they would not be available for the Friday night showdown with NYCFC, the international friendlies allowed each player to get some work in and hopefully stay sharp and match fit ahead of Orlando's final game of the season at Philadelphia on Oct. 25.
Kaká went unused in Brazil's first friendly of the break, a 2-0 loss at the hands of Chile, but the former Ballon d'Or winner logged a 15-minute shift in Brazil's 3-1 win over Venezuela on Tuesday. While 15 minutes is a rather short appearance for Orlando's captain, the short spell was actually optimal from the Lions' perspective as it allowed 33-year-old Ricky to get some run without putting unnecessary wear and tear on his legs. In addition to his appearance against Venezuela, training work with the likes of Douglas Costa, Willian, and Oscar couldn't have hurt the veteran's form.
Shea was called up by Jürgen Klinsmann following the USMNT's 3-2 defeat at the hands of Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup on Oct. 10. The embattled manager made several changes to the side, one of which was adding the big Texan ahead of the squad's most recent disappointment against Costa Rica. Despite the loss and a subpar showing individually, Shea did get the start in midfield for the U.S. on Tuesday night and put in 75 minutes of work, essentially replacing the minutes he would have logged against NYC.
While neither Lion had a spectacular showing for his country, they were able to get a little burn and return to the OCSC side injury free, which, given the Lions' injury luck in 2015, should be considered a relative success.