MLS Countdown: Kaka recalled by Brazil for Centenario

The announcement came a day too late to benefit the Philadelphia Union, but Orlando City midfielder Kaka has been named to Brazil’s squad for the Copa America Centenario.

Kaka replaces winger Douglas Costa, who has been scratched from the squad after scans of his left thigh revealed a torn muscle. Brazil is training in Southern California for the tournament, which begins next Friday. Brazil opens the competition against Ecuador June 4 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Under rules of the competition, teams were required to submit a preliminary list of 40 players, from which a 23-man roster was drawn. Kaka made the 40-man squad but was omitted by Brazilian coach Dunga in the final selections.

He played for Orlando City Wednesday in a 2-2 tie with the Union. In the game, he earned the 12th assist of his MLS career. He has also scored 11 goals in his 46 league appearances. He was named MVP of the 2015 MLS All-Star Game in which the All-Stars beat Tottenham, 2-1.

Kaka, 34, won the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year award but in the last five years has seldom played for his country. Dunga also excluded him from the 2014 World Cup in which host Brazil absorbed a humiliating 7-1 defeat by eventual champion Germany in the semifinals.

The Lions signed Kaka after his contract had terminated by AC Milan in June, 2014. He played on loan with Sao Paulo prior to Orlando City’s entry into MLS as an expansion team for the 2015 season. Orlando plays at New York City FC Sunday then takes a Centenario break until it hosts San Jose June 18.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN. This weekend Toronto FC is going back to where it started and this might be a case of leaving home being the right thing to do.

Mandated an eight-game road swing to open the season while renovations to BMO Field were completed, TFC started its long slog March 6 by prevailing, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena. Sebastian Giovinco put away a penalty kick and set up a clinching goal for Marky Delgado.

The victory triggered a solid 3-3-2 performance during the road show, but back home at BMO, TFC managed just one victory in four games. It is 4-4-4 heading into a rematch with the Red Bulls, who are in rampage mode after destroying their city rivals, 7-0, last weekend at Yankee Stadium and are tied with TFC in the standings (5-7-1, 16 points).

“One similarity is that we didn’t have Jozy [Altidore] for that game and we won’t have him this weekend, either,” said head coach Greg Vanney on the team’s Web site of the injured U.S. forward. “I would say we’re not quite at full strength without Jozy.

“We have to go in and be ready to play at the speed of the game they like to play. They like to push the tempo, they like to make you feel a little uncomfortable with their pressure and force you into situations where you make mistakes

“We have to be mentally and physically ready to make good decisions, to do the right things by the ball, and take what the game gives us, which is what we did the first time we went there.”

BATTLE OF THE SNUBBED. Two players omitted by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann from his final Centenario roster, Seattle rookie Jordan Morris and New England attacker Lee Nguyen, face each other Saturday when their struggling teams meet at Gillette Stadium.

The snubs are extra motivation, but a look at the standings is reason enough for urgency. New England (2-4-7) and Seattle (4-6-1) are not in the top six of their respective conferences, both have a minus goal difference (minus-7 and minus-3, respectively) and neither has won a road match.

Kei Kamara plays his third game for the Revs since a trade from Columbus, which on April 30 lost to the Sounders, 1-0, at CenturyLink Field. Morris scored the only goal in the third game of a four-game scoring streak that many observers believed had sealed his place on Klinsmann’s final roster. Instead, with Sounders teammate Clint Dempsey in the U.S. camp, Seattle will rely on Morris to help drive a sputtering attack that has scored just 10 goals.

Kamara’s scoring prowess – he netted 26 goals in 2016 for the Crew and hit five this year before the trade – depends on service, of which Nguyen is the Revs’ primary supplier. Nguyen leads New England in goals with four and he’s one of three players to score three goals.

Morris, 21, is eight years younger than Nguyen and will be back with the national team sooner rather than later. Their importance to a pair of struggling teams is a sidelight to the final weekend of league games prior to the Centenario break.

MLS Schedule:
Friday, May 27
7 pm Sporting KC vs. D.C. United UniMas
Saturday, May 28
6 pm Vancouver vs. Houston
7 pm NY Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC
7:30 pm Columbus vs. Real Salt Lake
7:30 pm New England vs. Seattle
8 pm Montreal vs. LA Galaxy
8:30 pm Chicago vs. Portland
9 pm Colorado vs. Philadelphia
10:30 pm San Jose vs. FC Dallas
Sunday, May 29
4 pm New York City vs. Orlando City ESPN, ESPN Deportes
All times ET.

MLS Standings:
19 Philadelphia 5-3-4 16/12
17 New York City 4-4-5 18/24
16 NY Red Bulls 5-7-1 21/20
16 Montreal 4-4-4 19/18
16 Toronto FC 4-4-4 14/12
15 Orlando City 3-3-6 20/18
13 D.C. United 3-5-4 13/14
13 New England 2-4-7 17/24
11 Columbus 2-4-5 12/15
10 Chicago 2-5-4 9/13

27 Colorado 8-2-3 16/9
26 FC Dallas 8-4-2 23/21
20 Real Salt Lake 6-3-2 17/15
20 Vancouver 6-6-2 22/24
20 LA Galaxy 5-1-5 25/13
19 San Jose 5-3-4 16/15
17 Sporting KC 5-7-2 14/17
15 Portland 4-6-3 21/24
13 Seattle 4-6-1 10/13
11 Houston 3-7-2 18/20

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