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ORLANDO –Kaka made his presence known early and often in his 2016 MLS regular season debut as the Orlando City captain lead the Lions to a 4-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers with his goal and two assist performance on Sunday at the Citrus Bowl.
The Brazilian midfielder assisted on Orlando’s two goals in the first half and then tucked in a finish of his own in the 48th minute to put a stamp on his return to the starting XI.
“It was amazing, I’m so happy with this game,” said Kaka following the game. “I’m so proud of our team, we played a very good game, this team (Portland) won the league last year and we just played a very, very good game, so I’m happy with my game and my teammates game.”
Orlando City got on the scoreboard early when Seb Hines put a header on a free kick from Kaka for his first goal of the season. Hines had connected on four set piece goals in one game during the preseason for the Lions but Sunday’s score marked his first regular season goal of 2016.
Brek Shea extended the Lions lead with a rocket of a shot off his left foot that went past the Portland goalkeeper before bending into the goal for the American’s first regular season goal since 2012 when he was with FC Dallas.
“Anytime you score and help the team win it feels good,” said Shea following the game. “If I score, if Cyle scores, if Ricky (Kaka) scores, if anyone scores and we win that’s always a good result but you feel good when you help the team do that.”
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 4, 2016
Kaka’s goal in the 48th minute extended Orlando City’s lead to 3-0 as he went on to play 80 minutes before coming off the field to a standing ovation. The good news is the 33-year-old didn’t feel any lingering effects following the game and said he is ready for the rest of the season.
“He’s the leader of this group,” said Orlando City manager Adrian Heath of his captain. “He’s going to be a big piece for us this season if we’re going to achieve the things we want to achieve and I know we can achieve then he’s going to have to be a big part.”
Kevin Molino extended the Lions’ lead to 4-0 when he tucked in a penalty kick in the 76th minute. The goal was a special one for the long time Orlando City man, as it marked the first-ever Major League Soccer goal for the Lions’ first-ever MLS signing.
Molino took the penalty after Kaka gave the ball to long-time Lion and told him ‘We believe in you, just take your time and finish it off and whatever you do do it with confidence.’
“It felt great, that’s going to help my confidence going into the next game,” said Molino about his first MLS goal. “Not just the next game but for the team, we got a magnificent win tonight, looking forward to the next game and it’s going to boost our confidence going into the away game.”
Cyle Larin only played 24 minutes before being substituted off after suffering an apparent leg injury. Heath said following the game that it appears to be a leg injury and that the club will no more about the extent of the injury on Monday or Tuesday.
Orlando City’s newest acquisition Jean Baptista was introduced to the fans prior to the game and the Brazilian forward is expected to train with the team this week in preparation for Friday’s match.
The win is the first at home for Orlando City and keeps the Lions’ unbeaten for the season, while improving their record to 2-0-2 with eight points in the standings which puts them in first place in the Eastern Conference.
Orlando City will now have a short week as they prepare for their next game against the Philadelphia Union on the road on Friday, April 8 with a 7 p.m. kickoff time.