A first-half injury to Brazilian star Kaka
put a damper on the opener of Orlando City Stadium and the Lions' 1-0 win over New York City FC in their new downtown stadium. He will be sidelined
for six weeks with a grade 1-2 left hamstring injury.
Kaka's injury came in the eighth minute of Sunday evening's match. He was replaced by Giles Barnes
in the 11th minute. Four
minutes later, Barnes, who was recently acquired from Vancouver for Brek Shea
, assisted on the winning goal by Cyle Larin
It was an especially bittersweet moment for
Kaká, as well as the Orlando players, staff and fans, given that the evening also marked the opening of the team's brand new Orlando City Stadium.
“I am very, very
disappointed for [Kaka]," said Jason Kreis, the Orlando City coach, after the game. "He’s worked extremely hard in the offseason and hard in the preseason. This could’ve been a huge night
for him. I think everyone could see the energy he was already putting into the game in those 11 minutes. I thought this was going to be a special night for him. Deeply disappointed for him but the
team moved on, and that’s a positive thing.”
A friend of Orlando City Lions owner Flavio Augusto Da Silva
, Kaka has been the face of the Lions since signing eight
months before they played their first game in MLS in 2015.
Kaka had nine goals and seven assists in 2015 but went scoreless in his last 16 games. Injuries limited him to nine appearances
in Orlando City's first 19 games in 2016. But he ended up finishing with nine goals and 10 assists. Orlando City finished with a 12-14-8 record in 2015 but took a step back in 2016 and finished with a
9-11-14 record after Kreis replaced Adrian Heath
as head coach.
In January, Kaka said offseason reports out of Brazil that he'd leave Orlando City at the end of the 2017 MLS season
were misconstrued, and he has made no decision about his future after his three-year contract ends.