Kaká says “Farewell” as Lions lose again

Orlando City Soccer 0 Columbus Crew 1, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 15th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

In its final home game of the 2017 MLS season, Orlando City SC meakly fell 1-0 to Columbus Crew SC on Sunday evening at Orlando City Stadium. The match was Kaká’s last in Major League Soccer and it proved an emotional occasion for all those wearing purple.

The game was virtually a non event as the Lions failed to give the Brazilan superstar a fitting farewell and both it and the season was best summed up by Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis afterwards as he said: “Very difficult to finish the [home schedule] with a loss at home, to feel like we didn’t live up to the expectations. We didn’t live up to what our fans and our Club and our community ultimately deserved this season. For me, with the atmosphere that we have, with the stadium, with everything that the ownership group has given, we need to do better than that. So we’ll spend the off-season getting really focused on where and how and when we can improve.”

Kreis came out with a starting XI of Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Seb Hines and Scott Sutter at the back Servando Carrasco, Antonio Nocerino, Giles Barnes and Yoshimar Yotún, who helped Peru qualify for the FIFA World Cup playoff stage last week, in midfield; and Dom Dwyer and captain Kaká in attack. Joe Bendik started his 67th consecutive MLS match in goal for City.

Orlando City Soccer 0 Columbus Crew 1, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 15th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Ola Kamara scored his 17th goal of the season on his 28th birthday to give the visitors the three points and a move into fifth position in the Eastern Conference. The best player on the park, Federico Higuain, started the move hitting a neat pass to the left of the box to Hector Jimenez. Jimenez wasted no time before centering a pass to Kamara who poked home from around six yards. The goal was Kamara’s 33rd for the Crew, tying him with Guillermo Barros Schelotto for eighth-most in club history.

Many of the 25,166 fans in attendance stayed after the final whistle to watch Kaká’s interview on the jumbotron. The captain took time to hug all his teammates and coaches before everyone was joined by their families to lap the pitch in a “Thank You” to the fans after what can only be considered a miserable season.

Orlando City Soccer 0 Columbus Crew 1, Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, 15th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

In the locker room afterwards, the Brazilian commented: “It was a very emotional game. Hard to play sometimes because when I was on the field a lot of things were on my mind. It’s difficult to focus on the game. It’s a really, really special game. Of course, I wanted to finish with a win. But with this good-bye, it’s very good for me as well because it’s not about the result, it’s not about the things that we could change here. I learned a lot from this city, from this Club, from everybody, the staff, teammates, you guys [the press], so it’s been a hard day but very happy as well.’

Kaká scored the Club’s first MLS goal in stoppage time of its inaugural MLS match and finishes the latest chapter of his illustrious club career as Orlando City’s all-time MLS leader in assists (22) and as its second leading scorer (24).

In all, Kaká made 78 MLS and U.S. Open Cup appearances for City, was selected to the MLS All-Star Fan XI roster in all three years and captained the All-Stars in 2015 and 2016, winning MLS All-Star Game MVP in 2015.

Kaká was a major reason for Orlando City’s local and global popularity and, with Kaká, Orlando City was second in MLS in average attendance at the 65,000-seat Camping World Stadium and second in visiting attendance. Since opening the doors of Orlando City Stadium in March 2017, the Club has sold all 18,000 season tickets for the third straight year and consistently hosts sold out crowds for MLS games.

“I can’t credit him enough for everything that he’s given,” Kreis continued. “In every single minute that he’s played, he’s given everything of himself. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Kaká’s final game for Orlando will be on 4th November at Orlando City Stadium when the club will host the ‘Fuerza Puerto Rico Friendly’ with all proceeds going to the United for Puerto Rico initiative to help raise funds and aid recovery efforts for the island following the hurricane devastation.

The Lions will finish their third season in MLS on Sunday, Oct. 22, when they visit the Philadelphia Union. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET at Talen Energy Stadium.

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia (Will Johnson 57’), Jonathan Spector, Seb Hines, Scott Sutter, M Servando Carrasco (Richie Laryea 70’), Yoshimar Yotún, Antonio Nocerino, Giles Barnes (Carlos Rivas 57’), F Dom Dwyer, ⓒ Kaká

Substitutes Not Used: GK Earl Edwards, Jr., D Tommy Redding, M Dillon Powers, F Hadji Barry

Columbus Crew SC – GK Zack Steffen, D Hector Jimenez, Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Harrison Afful (Jukka Raitala 85’), M Artur, Wil Trapp, Justin Meram (Kekuta Manneh 63’), Federico Higuaín (Adam Jahn 90+5’), Pedro Santos, F Ola Kamara

Substitutes Not Used: GK Brad Stuver, D Lalas Abubakar, M Mohammed Abu, Cristian Martinez

Attendance: 25,166

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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