Last Wednesday afternoon, after three years with Orlando City, Kaká informed the media he will not be returning for the 2018 season.
During his time in Orlando, the Brazilian star played 75 games, scoring 24 goals and providing 19 assists. Kaká, sadly, was troubled with injuries while playing in Orlando, and as a result, was unable to lead them to the playoffs. Despite the injuries, his time in Florida has been a memorable one – full of spectacular goals and performances that fans will remember for a lifetime.
Kaka’s decision to leave Orlando is an understandable one with his injuries and age. He understood that his body could no longer handle the physical toll of a full MLS season and at 35 years old, he decided to not renew his contract.
The decision is bittersweet for Orlando fans he will surely be missed, but this gives the club an opportunity to move forward and find someone who can help lead the Lions to the playoffs for the first time in their history. With Kaká’s decision to not return this opens up a Designated Player spot on Orlando’s roster and allows them to find a proper replacement. It also helps that he was the highest paid player on their roster since it alleviates any financial concerns and gives the organization some freedom in their search.
Ideally, Orlando would be looking for a player similar in style to Kaká a player who create but also score. They might want to try and replicate the success of rivals Atlanta United and focus on bringing in a player who is either still young or in their prime. With the league transitioning to this type of method when acquiring players, Orlando would be remiss to not follow that lead.
Overall, it will be interesting to see how Kaka’s retirement from the league affects Orlando in the 2018 season. His final official game was played yesterday against Columbus Crew (1-0 defeat), but he will be playing a charity match in Puerto Rico after the season to benefit hurricane victims.
Curtains have been called on his stay in Orlando, but the door remains open – at least for now – on him continuing to play elsewhere. Regardless, the former Ballon d’Or winner left a lasting imprint on the city of Orlando, the organization and supporters that they will never forget.