Kaka set for Red Bulls, Orlando encounter

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

The New York Red Bulls victory over Orlando City was a seminal moment for the club, triggering a two-game winning streak and buoying the hopes and expectations of the defending Supporters’ Shield champions.

But come Friday evening, four little letters will make a repeat performance in Orlando a bit more difficult to achieve.

K-A-K-A.

The star Brazilian midfielder was a notable absentee in the Red Bulls 3-2 win over Orlando at Red Bull Arena last month. This time, Kaka is expected to make the start in front of a packed — and blood-thirsty — crowd at the Citrus Bowl.

“He was really close for the weekend and he trained all weekend,” Lions coach Adrian Heath told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday. “He’s been out with the group this morning and barring any incidents overnight where he feels a bit stiff and tight in the morning, he’ll just progress his work up to the game on Friday.

“So at this moment, I would think we’re very confident that he’ll be available for us.”

The 34-year-old Brazilian playmaker has two goals and two assists in three matches for the Lions this year. This after a nine goal, seven assist season through 28 matches in 2015. However, a groin pull has forced the World Cup winner out of the past two matches for Orlando, against New York and New England respectively.

Orlando played an impressive counter attack style against New York at Red Bull Arena — a tactic that has carried several teams to victory over the Red Bulls this year. However, Kaka’s insertion to the lineup will give this Lions team a new wrinkle that will certainly challenge the visiting side.

“He changes things a lot,” acknowledged Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam. “He is their best player and the guy that makes things happen for them. That is going to change things a lot”

To quote Sam, “They have their best player back.”