Orlando City's resident super hero turned the game around last Saturday with a few simple touches. In a one-minute span, he brought an undermanned team back from the brink and turned the early season back into positive territory. Let's break down the two goals.
On Pedro Ribeiro's goal, Kaká is the facilitator, working hard to first get to Luke Boden's ball into space. Collecting the ball after Marco Donadel's attempted slide tackle at the top of the box, Kaká found himself with the ball and being quickly closed down by two Montreal Impact players -- with another anchoring the defense behind them. Kaká has the composure to push the ball into the path of a streaking Ribeiro, who wraps up the goal with a shot placed past the Impact goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
This goal featured fantastic team play, starting with hustle of Tyler Turner and Ribeiro near midfield, and a nice cross from Ribeiro to a streaking Luke Boden. In the grand scheme of the overall play, Orlando's Designated Player only had a couple of touches to set up the final goal.
In this series, Kaká's play makes the people around him better. Those few composed touches reward the hustle of two first-time starters in Turner and Boden, as well as the play's architect, and eventual finisher, Ribeiro. Without those two subtle touches deep in the opposing box, the play falls to pieces and Orlando is still down two goals.
The second goal is altogether a much simpler series of touches. Again its Ribeiro as the hard working architect, bringing the ball forward. With two defenders covering Ribeiro, he passes off to the streaking (but by no means unguarded) Kaká. The ball played is good enough for Kaká to finish strong and beat Kronberg for the second time in the space of a minute and tie the game up at two apiece.
Again it is the star's composure and ability to make the most out of the ball played to him that rewards the hard work of his teammates. Again that reward comes with two simple touches.
There are a few things going on here. First, a player of Kaká's ability demands the respect of defenders. On the first goal, four defenders are concerned about Kaká, opening space for the streaking Ribeiro. On the second goal, the Impact play Kaká with one defender playing man-to-man, while the goal scorer Ribeiro is given double coverage, leaving only one defender to cover Kaká.
While demanding the attention of defenders, the best players in the world also make their teammates better. Again, this is exactly what is happening in this series of two Orlando City goals.
The first time I watched them, I didn't really notice the contribution of Kaká. My friends watching with me at the pub were impressed with Ribeiro and impressed that fan favorite Boden got himself into the mix. Only in watching highlights later was I able to truly appreciate how one of the best players in the league was able to change the game with essentially four touches.
Unsurprisingly, Kaká has been nominated for MLS Goal of the Week and MLS Player of the Month for his efforts last week and in the early season. He also won MLS Team of the Week honors for his heroics in Montreal.
The scary part is, it looks like hes just getting going.