One of the biggest landmark signings in MLS history is undoubtedly the signing of Brazilian superstar Kaká by expansion team Orlando City FC as their first Designated Player on July 1st.
He claims his choice was based on his ability to lead the Lions to success, as opposed to merely financial compensation, as he spurned higher offers to play in Florida.
“This decision is not about money. I always think about the long-term project,” He told reporters. “I'm not here to retire, I'm here to win.”
The move is a big one for other reasons too, as the state of Florida has not had an MLS team in over 13 years. Its last two teams, Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion, both folded at the end of the 2001 season.
However, before Kaká begins MLS play next year with Orlando City, he will be staying in shape through a homecoming stint in Brazil. On Sunday afternoon, the midfielder’s path will come full circle when he plays his first game on loan with São Paulo FC, the Brazilian club he first started play for at the age of eight, and signed his first professional contract for at the age of 15.
There may not be a better team for Orlando City to have loaned him to, since not only will the stay give him an opportunity to maintain his fitness but could also be very helpful to the player’s morale and leadership skills. Not only will he be surrounded by the adoration of the hometown fans, he will most certainly be a leader and mentor on the squad where it all began for him.
São Paulo are the one of the most decorated clubs in Brazilian Serie A history, and Kaká is arguably the most successful player the club has ever produced. Kaká’s 2001 performance in the Brazilian youth league Final is legendary, after he entered the game as a substitute and proceeded to score two goals within two minutes to earn his team a 2-1 victory and the championship.
Since leaving São Paulo in 2003, he has found international success playing for European behemoths AC Milan and Real Madrid. Kaká last saw field action in May with AC Milan, the team he won the UEFA Champions League title with in 2007.
The upcoming weekend match with home team is sure to be surrounded with fanfare. The Brasileiro Série A is only 11 games into a 38 game regular season, and São Paulo are currently ranked sixth in the 20-team league and six points out of the lead, meaning Kaká has plenty of time to make an impact on the squad.
Their opponent on Sunday is Goiás EC. They are ranked tenth and two points behind São Paulo, however they have not had much luck offensively, having scored only seven goals through 11 games.