Almost two weeks ago, The Mane Land asked you, the readers, who Orlando City’s Player of the Decade should be. Voting was to be done based on the player’s overall contributions to the club — not necessarily just the best player to have taken the field, but what they were able to contribute over the course of the decade. Taking both the USL and MLS eras into consideration, this award was an attempt to identify the player that was the most important over the past 10 years.
Kaká is Orlando City’s Player of the Decade as voted by The Mane Land readers. The Brazilian led the way the entire time and finished with 32% of the vote. Kevin Molino finished in second place, with 23% of the vote. While Kaká took the reader poll, Molino was voted unanimously by The Mane Land staff. As TML did not exist during the team’s USL era and the club’s fan base grew exponentially with the move up to MLS, there may have been a great deal of our readers who voted in the poll but did not follow the club during the USL days when Molino was starring on pitch for the Lions.
Kaká was essential in the early MLS days in gaining support for the team. When he arrived in Orlando, hundreds of fans packed the airport to welcome him, and the support never wavered for the former World Player of the Year.
He ranks near the top of all Lions, statistically. He is tied with Luke Boden for the second-most assists (22) and ranks fourth in goals with 25, (24 in MLS play and one in the U.S. Open Cup). He is tied with Will Johnson for the fourth most MLS appearances, although including USL and the U.S. Open Cup, his 78 appearances put him 11th on the all-time list.
Below is a video of all the goals he scored while with Orlando.
The Mane Land staff voted exclusively for Molino. The biggest reason behind this is the effect that he had on both the club’s USL and MLS eras. The start of his MLS career was marred by a knee injury in 2015, but when he was healthy, he has always been a threat. His 2016 season was as good as Kaká’s, as both players combined for 19 goals + assists that year. While the Brazilian scored nine goals with 10 assists, Molino scored 11 goals and chipped in eight assists that year.
Molino won the USL MVP in both 2012 and 2014 and was a finalist for MLS Comeback Player of the year in 2016 after tearing his ACL the previous season. Molino has the third-most goals in Orlando City history (37) in USL and MLS combined. He also has the most in the USL days, most in the U.S. Open Cup, and the most assists of any Lion.
Kaká received 15 more reader votes than Molino and the TML staff vote nearly made up that ground, closing the final gap to just five votes.
Below you can view the completed results. Adrian Winter and Yoshimar Yotún were some of the write-in candidates received.