clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 2016 Season Will Define Kaká's Time in Orlando. Here's Why

It's been almost two years since Orlando City announced the biggest signing in club history, and while Kaká has been an incredible ambassador for the Lions and MLS, 2016 could go a long way towards determining how successful OCSC is during his time in Orlando.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kaká's first season in Orlando was all about moments.

The 50-yard solo goal against West Brom. The offensive clinic against Montreal. The "goal that will be etched into Orlando history" against NYCFC.

Even when you strip away all the hype surrounding Orlando City's most famous player, from the 2007 Ballon d'Or to the perpetually sunny demeanor, you're still left with a guy who can do some ridiculous things with a soccer ball. That's why, even at 33 years old, Kaká is the foundation around which Orlando decided to build a team.

And as the 2016 season approaches, there's really just one more thing he has left to accomplish in MLS.


It's a broad objective, but I'm not suggesting Kaká's legacy in Orlando hinges on bringing home an MLS Cup. That would be ridiculous and unfair for a veteran player on such a young team. So what should be a reasonable expectation for the Brazilian legend?

Start Orlando City on the road to annual MLS Cup contention, something that needs to begin in 2016.

While last season's seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference was disappointing, it was hardly unexpected. MLS expansion clubs have struggled historically and the Lions were hit hard by injuries and international absences throughout the regular season.

But in many ways, Kaká was a barometer of success for Orlando in 2015. When he was in form, the club was able to knock off league powerhouses such as LA and Portland. But when he struggled or missed time? The Lions looked lost against the likes of Seattle and Toronto.

A stat to consider: During games in which Kaká recorded an assist, the Lions were only defeated once in 2015. And while his scoring numbers are somewhat skewered due to his status as the Lions' first-choice penalty taker, Orlando City never lost when Kaká hit the back of the net.

These numbers seem promising, until you consider Kaká's struggles with consistency during his first season in MLS. His most active months on offense were March (two goals, two assists, 14 shots on goal) and June (three goals, 0 assists, nine shots on goal). But outside those two explosive months, he would put just nine shots on frame the rest of the season.

If the Lions hope to become a playoff team in 2016, Kaká will have to maintain a higher level of performance throughout the entire season. And there's good reason to believe he can. Before his first season in Orlando got underway, it appeared Kaká's attacking partners for the year would be Kevin Molino, Lewis Neal and Martin Paterson. That trio combined to score a grand total of zero goals in 2015 (although Molino only played seven league matches before tearing his ACL).

Things should be a little different this season. Cyle Larin isn't coming out of nowhere in 2016 and a healthy Molino could do wonders for Orlando's offensive mojo. Add a proven commodity like Antonio Nocerino to the mix (during preseason, no less) and Kaká should have plenty of time to develop some attacking chemistry this year.

Let me be clear: Kaká's Orlando City legacy is not on the line here. The man has gone out of his way to represent the Lions and Major League Soccer with absolute class and professionalism. He's well known for signing every autograph, maintaining a positive relationship with fans and just being an absurdly nice guy in general. Goals and assists are not going to change that.

But if Kaká hopes to set the Lions up for on-field success in the future, he needs to begin in 2016.