Orlando City SC will be without star midfielder Kaká on Sept. 5 as he joins the Brazilian national club for a pair of friendlies against Costa Rica and the United States next month.
That is good news for Kaká and Brazil. For Orlando City? That is terrible news.
When playing without the Brazilian this season, Orlando City has been very bad. Sure, it is a small sample size with him missing just two games (July 11 vs FC Dallas, and August 5 against Toronto FC), but in each of those games Orlando City's play has been abysmal.
The loss against FC Dallas, where Kaká was out due to a red card from the match before, was the start of the current slide for Orlando City in which the Lions have lost of five of the last eight.
"A bit lethargic, lacking in energy and probably got what we deserved, which was nothing," Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said after that match. "That’ll probably be the easiest three points on the road that Dallas will get this season, I would think...Poor night, very bad night."
And it did not get much better a few weeks later when Orlando took on Toronto FC with Kaká out on Aug. 5. Heath summed it up pretty nicely after that match by saying, "I thought we were very bad."
The fact that Orlando City is worse without its best player on the pitch is not a surprise. What is surprising is how much worse the Lions have played without him. Couple that with the fact that Orlando City is dealing with injuries on the back line, getting acclimated to new players on the field, and having a few players in a run of bad form, and there is no reason for this trend of poor play without the captain to cease.
Without Kaká, there is no general in the midfield to help the attack push forward. The 33-year-old leads Orlando City in minutes played this season, is second on the team in goals (nine) and leads the squad with four assists. He also leads the team in shot attempts, which shows that he has been one of the top offensive creators for the team this season.
The rest of the options in the attacking midfield lack the creativity and passing ability of the Brazilian legend. With Orlando City's play in the defensive third being shoddy in recent weeks, the best option Orlando City has is to keep up with its opponents and score plenty of goals. Obviously, without your best offensive player, that can be a little difficult.
Luckily, Orlando City should only be without Kaká for one game. But the team needs to figure out a way to perform with and without its best player, or it will continue its tumble through the Eastern Conference table.