Orlando City has lofty goals entering 1st MLS season
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Kaka has lofty goals entering his first Major League Soccer season.
Orlando held its first training session as a MLS team on Friday, the latest step in the arrival of the city’s second major professional sports franchise.
Its biggest offseason addition was the 32-year-old former AC Milan star voted 2007 FIFA Player of the Year. Kaka said he’s already started bonding with his new teammates.
"It’s respect," Kaka said. "And I can show them even if I won a lot of things in my career, I still have the motivation for victories. Every day I will try to show them that personality when we’re training, and show them how I want to win."
Phil Rawlins purchased the minor league Austin Aztex and moved the team to Orlando in October 2010 with the goal of joining MLS within five years. The Lions have sold 10,000 season tickets, and Rawlins hopes the total will reach a 14,000 cap by the March 8 opener against fellow newcomer New York City.
"You’re going to find it very difficult to take a picture of me today without a smile on my face," he said. "This is a day we’ve waited for for seven years. It’s another historical milestone in the history of this great club."
Kaka, who also starred for Sao Paulo and struggled during four injury filled seasons at Real Madrid, joins a franchise with 10 players 23 or younger. He’s comfortable in his role as face of the Lions.
"I played on three big clubs, and on those clubs most of the time I was the face of the team. So I’m used to it," he said. "It’s a big responsibility. But it’s also a big motivation. So I hope I can be the face of Orlando for many years."
Orlando also signed American midfielder Brek Shea, who is trying to revive his career after making just three Premier League appearances in two years at Stoke. It also selected Canadian forward Cyle Larin with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLS draft to fortify a roster that retained only eight players from its final USL Pro League team last year.
Kaka has said the Lions could win a championship in their first MLS season, which caused Orlando coach Adrian Heath to quip: "He must have been misquoted. I don’t think he speaks English that well."
Kaka didn’t back off his statement completely, though he did acknowledge that achieving smaller goals likely would come first.
"I’m used to thinking about winning, so I still hope that we can win the league," he said. "But I know that our first step this year is to go to the playoffs. But I still have in my mind that we can arrive to the end of the playoffs."