Kaká made his long-awaited debut in purple today and he looked good.
He and his Orlando City SC teammates ran roughshod over an FC Dallas team comprised largely of backups and trialists, winning 4-0 at the ChampionsGate Sports Complex. The highest paid player in Major League Soccer, wearing the captain's arm band, scored on a penalty in the 33rd minute (I think...they didn't have a visible clock and time was kept on the field), after striker Martin Paterson was pulled down in the box by...someone. We weren't given rosters. It was No. 39 and he had long hair -- that's all I know. The photo above is Kaká taking the penalty. So is this video:
Paterson himself got on the score sheet earlier, collecting his own rebound and scoring left-footed in the 20th minute, off a beautiful feed from Kaká, who overlapped nicely with Kevin Molino on the play. "Molino to Kaká to Paterson, GOAL!" has a nice ring to it. Hopefully we'll hear it a lot this season.
Orlando City's $7 million man started and played the opening 45 minutes. All the starters were replaced at the half. Kaká was all smiles after the game.
"Very good, first game," he said. "We have a lot of things we need to improve, but as a first game it was nice, and I'm happy with it."
Head Coach Adrian Heath said he was, in a word, "pleased" with his team's effort, although he pointed out the opposition was a very young side that will not be what the Lions will see in the regular season. FC Dallas played without its best and brightest in the scrimmage.
"After the first 15-20 minutes, I thought we started to play some reasonable football," Heath said. "We started to look as if we knew what we're doing. We started getting a little bit better idea of what we can become.It was good to get 'Ricky' (Kaká) on the field and see where he's going to fit in and where we think we can work with him best."
Heath said his team was still getting to know its star player and where to look for him.
"I think the most important thing is we've got to get to know where he thinks it's best for him to be operating," said the coach. "Like he did a little bit at Sao Paulo last year, he played a bit deeper at times. One of the pleasing things today is that he dropped deep and Kevin (Molino) went and played in behind him. There were one or two nice little bits of movement between the two of them."
Midfielder Tony Cascio, who started on the right wing, opened the scoring, just 13 minutes in, faking a defender out and dribbling past, before slotting home with his left foot.
In the second half, Danny Mwanga, the beneficiary of a turnover, made it 4-0 in the 64th minute, faking the goalkeeper to the ground and firing left footed into the empty net. Mwanga had two other nice opportunities to score, notably trying to chip the keeper on a break, but he didn't quite get the try high enough and it was saved.
FC Dallas managed to hit the post with a header off a cross late in the second half, but otherwise didn't get many looks at goal. Some said the player was none other than former Lion Long Tan, but I did not receive confirmation of that. Goalkeepers Donovan Ricketts and Earl Edwards Jr. had little to do today.
The most important takeaway is that Kaká got on the field, despite one nervous minute when the entire Orlando City bench audibly gasped after Kaká was fouled hard. The Brazilian seemed to have good chemistry with Molino and Paterson and that will only get better.
"The first game you always have motivation and is something special, and now every game will be better," he said. "Every game we need to do better things. I think today we did better than the last game."
Other takeaways from the game:
- Molino looks like he's been playing with Kaká for more than two weeks. The two seemed to have a good understanding where the other would be.
- Heath paired veterans and young players in his central defender pairings. Aurelien Collin played alongside Conor Donovan on the first unit and Gustavo played next to Tommy Redding in the second half.
- Paterson was very active in his second stint with the club, creating several chances. He scored, drew a penalty, pushed a shot just inches wide, and had another attempt saved. It was a top performance.
- Harrison Heath played left wing in the second half and Darwin Ceren played attacking midfield. There were obviously absences. Carlos Rivas (shoulder) is banged up, Lewis Neal did not play, and we still haven't seen Cyle Larin or Bryan Rochez. Akeil Barrett played right wing with the second group. Sidney Rivera also didn't play.
- Rafael Ramos was less visible today than in the 1-1 draw with D.C. United. He had trouble finding space and took out his frustrations after losing the ball with a hard challenge that drew a yellow card and could easily have been a red on another day or with another referee.
Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts
Defenders: Luke Boden, Aurelien Collin, Conor Donovan, Rafael Ramos
Defensive Mid: Amobi Okugo, Cristian Higuita
Attacking Mid: Kevin Molino, Kaká, Tony Cascio
Striker: Martin Paterson
Orlando City: Tony Cascio (13'), Martin Paterson (20'), Kaká (33' - pen.), Mwanga (64')
FC Dallas: None.
Orlando City: Rafael Ramos (28')
FC Dallas: (They got two, one was on No. 39. The other might have been on Danny Garcia. Yeah, it was like that out there.)