By MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City’s long awaited pursuit of Ricardo Kaka is finally over.
Orlando City SC officially introduced Kaka on Tuesday morning at a press conference, signing the Brazilian midfielder to a Designated Player contract that will run through 2017. Kaka arrived in Orlando on Monday evening and was greeted by hundreds of fans at the Orlando International Airport, signing autographs, accepting scarves, and even speaking for a few minutes to the media.
“I’m happy to be here in Orlando. I said one day I’d like to play in America,” Kaka said. “This thing started in 2012 when we had our first meeting when Flavio said to me he had this dream to built this amazing thing in America. It’s a dream come true.”
Orlando City won’t make their Major League Soccer debut until March 2015, so they’re loaning Kaka to his boyhood club in Brazil, Sao Paulo FC, for the next six months before coming back to Orlando just in time for preseason camp.
“We not only brought a Brazilian superstar, we brought a world superstar,” Orlando City SC president Phil Rawlins said. “Today is the day when we put MLS on notice. We may be franchise No. 21, but we’re not here to make up the numbers, we’re here to win. We’ve created a strategy and a tradition of wining soccer matches and championships, we want to do that in Major League Soccer.”
The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year spent the 2013/2014 season in Italy, playing in the Serie A for AC Milan, but failed to qualify to European contention, allowing Kaka to opt out of his contract with the Italian club. Kaka brings to Orlando City with him numerous achievements for both club and country, including a UEFA Champions League title and a World Cup title.
Kaka told reporters that he’s been aware of Orlando City since 2012 and his friendship with club majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva played a factor in the decision to play for the Lions.
“I thought the moment to come was arriving and Orlando was the project I want to be part of,” Kaka said. “I didn’t come to America to enjoy the American lifestyle, I chose to come because I want to win the league, do something special for my career and this team. I can be an example for other players to come and enjoy playing soccer in America. I spoke with Los Angeles (Galaxy), and New York (Red Bulls).”
It’s nice that Chaz Bono could make it.
This seems like an okay move for everyone involved. Why sign him so far out though?
Here’s to hoping Atlanta makes a big splash in DP signings in a couple years! Kaka is big, but I would love to see us sign a big name that’s still in their 20’s (29 counts!)
Arthur Blank has the cash
Did he dye his hair purple?
if you look closely, all three of them did. They were really feeling it on the plane trip from Brazil.
Keep in mind that Orlando is the #1 vacation spot for Brazilians in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if more Brazilians have been to Orlando than have been to NYC, LA, DC, Miami, or any other far more likely tourist destination than Orlando.
Whether or not this is a great move in terms of the product on the field, it makes a ton of sense from a marketing perspective. Brazilians are already flying into Orlando in droves to buy their baby strollers, tech, etc., so why not sell them on the idea of stopping by the stadium to watch one of their most beloved players in recent memory?
Enjoy higher ticket prices and fewer freedoms.
Corporate Soccer Still Sucks.
Paying an MLS expansion fee and hiring “star players” can have its downsides. Supporter ownership and open leagues are much more exciting:
I’m sure most soccer fans want promotion and relegation in the USA, but it’s really a nonstarter. No owner would willingly give up the security that comes with the single-entity, single-tier structure of MLS.
So, good luck to any upstart league system that incorporates some sort of pro/rel system. I think it’d be cool to see, but it’s all about the bottom line. If something isn’t profitable, it rarely sticks.
The defeatist attitude of people who say pro/rel is a good idea but won’t happen is frightening. Instead of bending over and just accepting the current state of MLS, ignore the league and support the minor leagues like NASL. There is choice and once MLS owners realize more money can be made in an open system they will eventually see the big picture and come around.
I think the naive notion that eventually USSF and MLS will come around and embrace pro/rel is frightening. It will never ever happen. In fact, it’s a tradition and a relic in nations that have had organized soccer for 100+ years. If professional soccer was being revived in England after a many years hiatus, the Premier League would be a closed league like MLS. Wishing for pro/rel is a pipe dream.
Are you really saying that those of us who support MLS are doing so because we “bend over”? When NASL starts beating MLS teams head-to-head, there might be some merit to your arguments.
Ask fans of women’s soccer about the relationship between operating profits and availability of games to watch.
MLS’s structure–though quirky and imperfect–has provided fantastic stewardship over the growth of the game in this country. Pro/Rel is not the solution to any of MLS’s issues.
By my count NASL is 5-4 vs MLS this year in the US Open Cup so I would say the difference between the two leagues on the field is a lot closer then you realize. And please don’t use the MLS doesn’t take the Cup seriously because that’s a pretty weak argument. I suppose MLS doesn’t take the Concacaf champions league or MLS all-star game very seriously either hence their poor record in those games too.
The Sounders don’t play in NASL
We rooted when they played non-MLS
The Sounders rejected MLS because of the structure the owner ( Oki ) didn’t like it either.
But in the end, what won out…not even close. They value the Sounders at $175mm now. probably 100 times what they were worth before…ok probably $175mm more than before.
It is always about the money.
Talk to me when NASL wins the US Open Cup….I wont hold my breathe.
I will root for them if the Sounders get knocked out. Not gonna happen, but the Sounders made some non-MLS runs in the tourney..lot of fun. Hope you experience it.
Was this carefully timed to ensure as few people were paying attention as possible? Even better, why not have the press conference during the US-Belgium game?
+1. Heck of a PR team they have.
-1. OCSC is making a big push for season ticket sales right now. Feel free to keep taking about things you know nothing about.
And they got him without having to sign his useless brother
Haven’t seen much of Kaka over the past couple of years. He isn’t all that old but does he still play at a decent level? Also, I don’t think referring to him as “Ricardo Kaka” is correct. It’s either Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite or Kaka.
Another sign that the USA is maturing as a soccer nation — moronic decisions by front offices willing to squander big bucks on over-the-hill players. And… the next time someone prattles on about some sort of magic bullet to cure US soccer’s alleged ills, just remember the dollars and playing time being wasted on foreign antiques.
I’m no fan of mediocre 30-somethings coming to MLS, but there are a few players of a certain age who transcend that arbitrarily-imposed age limit, and Kaka is one. I’d also be stoked to see Ibra, Drogba, Sneijder, and Xavi in our league within a year or two.
I think this is an ok signing but I think you’re missing the bigger picture somewhat. MLS isn’t at the point yet where it can attract elite players in their prime, though that day is coming. Kaka still has something left and he’ll be here for a while so I think it’s defensible move.
If you want the national team to improve, the point is to develop American players, not import foreigners, no matter how good or how young. Every dollar and every minute of playing time devoted to players who cannot represent the USA represent opportunities lost. And this is why many senior officials in European soccer want to impost new limits on foreigners playing in their national leagues.
If MLS were a league of only Americans, then our best players wouldn’t have the advantage of playing against competition that is not only quality, but of different skill types. Our players should know how to play against all types of players and a diverse domestic league gives you that
you’re right Ian. I hope some team steps forward and offers Bayern Munich 2million for Julian Green.
2 million wouldn’t be enough….and I’ll just say it: NOOOO!!! For the sake of development, I want Green to stay at Bayern, or possibly go to an EPL team where he can get playing time. Also, I’m hoping to see Yedlin get some looks from German and English teams as well.
Why do you want Yedlin to leave ?
He isn’t growing enough in Seattle ?
Could have fooled me yesterday. I could have sworn he looked incredible for a second year player.
Get over the blind Euro love people. MLS is a great place to play.
Ian Woodville says: “Every dollar and every minute of playing time devoted to players who cannot represent the USA represent opportunities lost.”
That is way too broad a generalization. MLS needs to grow and market itself. If part of that is making teams more appealing to some audiences with a few brand-name-but-aging non-American superstars like Kaka then so be it.
I’m Exhibit A proving the value of such moves. I was a little kid living in New York when Pele came to the Cosmos. I started playing soccer because of him. I’ve been a dedicated fan of the sport for decades now because of an old, foreign and fading superstar.
We just need to balance grooming American players and bringing in foreign stars, which I think we’re doing just fine.