Orlando City SC pulled out a draw a man down Sunday night, riding the coattails of Cyle Larin's hard work inside the box that led to Kaká's PK. The Lions were able to steal a point on the road against the surging San Jose Earthquakes without Brek Shea for much of the second half.
Getting four points out of six from these back-to-back games against California foes compels me to quote some of the best lyrical wordsmiths of my lifetime, the Geto Boys, in saying, "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta!"
Two weeks ago, we were down and out, drinking our poor livers into oblivion during a hellacious four-game MLS winless streak that felt a lot more like four years than four games. But not anymore.
Now, we rejoice. It didn't matter that the San Jose Wondolowskis had an extra man. It didn't matter that Wondo himself netted his 100th career MLS goal in front of his hometown fans. Our boys decided they would not be defeated, and so it was.
Now that I've built you all up over the joy of the result, it's time to bring everyone back to earth with a look at the way we're handling our penalty kicks.
Or, more specifically, with who's taking them.
Now, I'm not here to try and tell you Kaká is not the most influential player on the team. I'm not here to tell you he isn't the most experienced, or that he isn't the most qualified man for the PK job.
I'm just here to question the results, and whether or not we could be doing better.
I know what the numbers say. They say our Brazilian hero is a perfect 3/3 on the year from the spot, scoring in big moments when the offense was struggling to create and also in moments simply to pile the hurt on the defending MLS champions. While it's true that numbers never lie, you can often read between the lines to spot the half-truths they are telling.
Take the game against Portland, for instance.
If not for the bush league encroachment infraction, Kaká leaves the spot empty handed and we're facing a much different game against a tough Portland Timbers side with one of the best "12th men" in the league.
This isn't the only example of a poorly taken PK from our captain. While the LA goal will always hold a place in our hearts for the unforgettable tribute to the one and only Kevin Molino (#Molinomania never dies), the truth is, it was a very saveable take from our man on the spot.
Last night, Kaká sent David Bingham the wrong way and went high to the left. It was maybe his best penalty of the three, but if Bingham had guessed correctly, the location Kaká hit might have been within the San Jose keeper's reach.
Would we be better served giving these opportunities to a young Cyle Larin or Bryan Rochez (assuming the latter is on the pitch)? Could these relatively inexperienced forwards benefit from not just the confidence of punching them in from the spot, but the pride of Inchy's confidence of trusting them from the spot? Should we try Brek Shea (when he hasn't been sent off)?
It's hard to say, definitively. It's all conjectural as it stands. With the draw and the point that comes with it settling the club in sixth place and the MLS playoffs after 13 games, there is one thing that isn't conjectural at all, folks.
Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.