Kaká had options when the 2013-14 European club season ended: Finish the final year of his contract with Italian giants AC Milan, return home to play in Brazil or pursue a new challenge with MLS newcomers Orlando City.
He chose the latter, and he expects many other elite European-based stars to follow a similar path in the years to come.
“In the end, I decided to come to America because of this serious project that I think is very good, and because of this vision I have about the American league,” the Brazilian playmaker and 2002 World Cup winner told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday, one day after he was unveiled as the Lions' first Designated Player. “It will grow a lot in the next years. My expectation is that soccer is going to be the first sport in America.”
Noting that old ideas about North America being a pre-retirement destination are falling by the wayside, Kaká made clear that others have mulled the same factors that he did. Much like his friend David Beckham, he hopes to play a pioneering role in that regard.
“I hope [MLS] can arrive as one of the top five leagues in the world. I want to have this target,” said Kaká, comfortably answering questions in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. “For other players, I think I can show them that the American league is a nice place to play. You can enjoy your football.
“In Europe, the players speak a lot to come to play in America,” he added. “So I think European players start to think of playing in America, not at the end of their career. … A lot of players can arrive in the next years, at a high level, to play in MLS.”
Asked about the potential arrival of his countryman and former teammate Robinho, another skilful star widely linked with Orlando City by the rumor mill, Kaká did not offer any new tidbits, but suggested that it is a question of when, not if.
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“I haven't spoke with Robinho in these days, but I am sure that Robinho will probably be invited into MLS too. He's a good player and a great guy,” he said.
Kaká and AC Milan agreed to dissolve his contract by mutual consent, an emotional decision but one he believes will open the door to a unique new chapter in his glittering career.
“For me it was difficult to leave Milan, the team where I played for seven years, the team that helped me arrive at the top level as a soccer player,” he said. “In the end, I think I took the right decision in the right moment to come to America.”