Back in December of 2014, which seems like ages ago, I took a realistic look into Kaká's first year in MLS and while I got a lot wrong in that piece, there were some constants that developed as the 2015 season came to pass.
Here is a section of that column, which you can find here:
The one thing to keep in mind for Kaká for this next year is that he is 32 years old. He is not the same player he was four or five years ago, so it's a bit of a long shot to expect a 15-goal season from him. His game is now more focused on distribution, which means higher assist numbers and more goals for his midfield compatriots. I would say somewhere between 8-12 assists would be more than a fair estimate for Kaká's stat totals next year. One thing is for sure, however. He will have a major impact for Orlando City come the start of the season in three months time.
While this didn't come to pass last season, I stand by this statement for 2016. During media day this past Friday, Head Coach Adrian Heath said, "I think we will see even more of him than we did last year and, if we can get him to 12 to 15 goals, that will be huge for us."
While it would be huge for Orlando City if Kaká scored that many goals, I'm not fully sold on that yet. He's scored and assisted in preseason, but don't read into that too much. It's preseason after all. You're not expecting Seb Hines to lead Orlando in scoring this season.
Orlando has Kevin Molino coming back from ACL surgery and Cyle Larin coming of a record-breaking rookie campaign, so the thought of Kaká dominating the scoring for this team is plausible, but somewhat unrealistic. After all, he only scored four goals that were not penalties. Those numbers don't necessarily instill confidence that he can accrue double that amount over the span of one season, especially with the weapons around him.
However, a few months ago I did some research into other Designated Players and their second year in MLS and found that the big names of Henry, Beckham, etc, were more successful overall. Not only that, their teams made the playoffs that year. The fact that Kaká is coming into year two refreshed and comfortable in Florida is a big bonus for him and the team. Also, don't forget that he played for São Paulo FC right before he came to Orlando last year. Having that break in between the seasons is huge for Kaká as well. Plus, he's more familiar with the league and how best to play in it.
So, while it is completely plausible that Kaká goes nuts and scores 15 goals, which would have been good for ninth in MLS last year, I'll stick to my guns and say he won't. That doesn't mean he won't be an integral player to the team, however. Just like last year, he'll try his best to find a way to help this team succeed.
So, what do you think Kaká will do for Orlando City this year? Will he score 15 goals and lead the team to the playoffs? Will he have more assists than goals? Let us know in the comments below.