Orlando City’s season-opening 1-0 win in its brand new soccer-specific stadium is overshadowed by an injury to team captain and former Ballon d'Or winner Kaká. A team spokesman said the Brazilian has sustained a Grade 1 to 2 injury to his left hamstring and will be sidelined about six weeks.
In the eighth minute, the Orlando City captain took the ball at midfield, glided past NYCFC's Andrea Pirlo and had the entire left side of the field to himself. With all this space, Kaká took it himself and got into the opposition's 18-yard box where he was met by four defenders. He took a step-over before attempting the shot — which was blocked — and came down awkwardly, clutching his left hamstring. Giles Barnes immediately started warming up and three minutes later Kaká's day was over.
On air, the injury was said to be "not serious," but after the game Head Coach Jason Kreis had a different opinion claiming, "It looks like this could be a very serious injury." We now know that Kaká will be out for approximately six weeks, putting him out of action likely until at least the game at New York City FC on April 23.
Through his first two years in MLS, the 34-year-old has had recurring injury problems. In 2015, Kaká missed a total of six games due to injuries and international duty. The next year, he missed 10 league games due to various injuries. With injures getting worse each year, it has to be asked how much does the Brazilian superstar have left in the tank?
The attacking play-maker provided the spark for the Lions to start the game and Orlando clearly missed his presence for the remainder of the game, particularly struggling in possession.
Barnes, acquired just days prior in exchange for Brek Shea, came on for Kaká and four minutes later provided the assist for Orlando City’s first goal of 2017. While Barnes played well, the offense did not gel together very well, which led to the Lions holding less than 32% possession.
“That didn’t make me happy,” Kreis said of his team’s ability to possess the ball. “We did some things well tonight and we didn’t do some things well — mostly when we didn’t have the ball. I think there’s lot of reasons for that, but it will be a big focus us that we need to value the ball a lot more.”
Kreis has stated that he sees Matías Pérez García as the number 10 playmaker, so expect MPG to play a bigger role in the attack moving forward. Barnes will most likely gain more playing time and could start in week two at New England.
Kaká is currently in the last year of his $7 million contract and it is unknown what his plans are after this year.