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Orlando City March Madness Bracketology: Kaká Claims Championship

The Brazilian breezed past every challenger in a dominating performance and is your favorite Lion of all time.

MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The readers of The Mane Land have spoken loudly and clearly, making Kaká the winner of our March Madness Bracketology quest to find the most popular Lion of all time. We gave you no criteria for voting aside from picking your favorite and the Brazilian play maker and former Orlando City captain destroyed everyone he faced in the competition en route to the title.

Here’s how the final bracket looked:

Kaká took 80% of the 80 votes cast on this site, as well as 82.8% of the 267 votes cast on Twitter to easily beat current captain Nani as the Lion who most captured your hearts while wearing purple.

Here’s how Kaká claimed his crown:

  • In Round 1, Kaká destroyed Justin Meram, claiming 98% of the 129 votes on TML and 93.5% of the 542 votes on Twitter.
  • In Round 2, Kaká blasted Aurelien Collin, taking 92% of the 86 votes on our site and 95% of the 323 votes on Twitter.
  • In Round 3 (Sweet 16), Kaká took down Jonathan Spector with 94% of the 70 votes on TML and 93.1% of the 404 Twitter votes.
  • In Round 4 (Elite Eight), Kaká blew out Chris Mueller, grabbing 78% of the 91 votes on our site and 81.2% of the 404 votes on Twitter. This was his closest win and he still got more than three-quarters of the vote at The Mane Land and more than 80% on Twitter.
  • In Round 5 (Final Four), Kaká easily eliminated Cristian Higuita, taking 79% of 81 votes here on the site and 83.1% of 326 Twitter votes.
  • In the championship match, Kaká mangled Nani to the tune of 80% of 80 TML votes and 82.8% of the 267 votes on Twitter.

Kaká was the top seed going into this tournament but his domination was still a bit surprising. The likable Brazilian was always destined to win, but to obliterate other popular players like Mueller and Nani puts him on an entirely separate level.

What did we learn from our March Madness experience? The seeding overall was solid. We had only two upsets in the first round and one was likely due to many fans simply not being aware of former USL Lion Adama Mbengue. There were no second-round upsets at all. The top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 in all four regions.

In the Sweet 16, there were three No. 3 seeds who upset the No. 2 seed, but one of those was USL Lion Dennis Chin and one was USL Lion Miguel Gallardo. This shows the much larger number of fans in the MLS era — many of whom never saw the Lions play in the USL days — simply don’t have the same affinity for some of the original Orlando City legends who helped the club get to Major League Soccer in the first place. The third of the three Sweet 16 upsets was second seed Cyle Larin falling to Higuita. Larin’s departure to Besiktas remains a sore spot for many, although the Turkish club, Larin’s agent, and Orlando City’s refusal to compensate Larin for his production are all likely more blameworthy than the Canadian striker himself for the way that went down.

The biggest upset of the tournament came in the Final Four, when Higuita knocked off No. 1 seed Kevin Molino. This again is likely due mainly to MLS-era-only fans not recognizing Molino’s importance prior to the jump to the top flight. So, many simply remember one very good season in 2016 and a 2015 season lost to injury, rather than Molino helping the Lions win five USL trophies and setting a league record with a 20-goal year in 2014. The other three Final Four match-ups went to the top seed in each region.

Kaká and Nani reached the final as expected, although the Portuguese winger and current captain faced a surprisingly big challenge from Dom Dwyer, who himself had only squeaked past Ruan in the Final Four by a few votes. That set the stage for the top overall seed to claim the title. He did that easily.

So Kaká is your champion — the most popular player ever to wear the Orlando City crest (so far). We want to thank everyone for their input and for their votes. We hope you enjoyed this distraction from all that’s been going on in the real world as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.