Through their first two seasons in Major League Soccer, Orlando City SC have managed to shine in one half of the field while making a mess in the other.
At one end, Cyle Larin is scoring at a rate of just over a goal every other game with 31 in 59 appearances. His production, a rookie record-setting 17 goals in 2015 and 14 in his sophomore season, has greatly impressed club captain Kaká.
“Cyle is a big surprise, because the second season, normally, is the worst one for the young guys,” Kaká told reporters during MLS Media Day on Tuesday. “Everybody [now] knows him, the way that he plays. The marking is different, and he had a very good season last season as well. He scored a lot of goals.”
While the Brazilian and the entire club hope that Larin remains in Orlando for years to come, Kaká believes the youngster would be a success among the European elite.
“I think Cyle can go far,” Kaká said. “Cyle is a very good player and the third season for us will be great, but I think Cyle can play in a big team in Europe as well.”
While all appears to be clicking at the top half, the defense has been a source of concern. The Lions shipped 56 goals in 2015 (16th in MLS) and conceded a further 60 in 2016 to have the unwanted distinction of being the league’s worst defense.
“We scored a lot of goals the last two seasons,” Kaká noted. “If you don’t concede a lot, probably we have more wins during the season.”
When asked if defensive reinforcements may be heading to Florida, Kaká said that is for head coach Jason Kreis to worry about. The attacking midfielder is more concerned about the work he and his teammates have to do during preseason to plug the gaps.
“I don’t like to speak about the team for individual players because I think defensively we have to think about the defensive system,” Kaká responded when asked about the possibility of defensive signings.
"It starts from me and Cyle in front, so it’s part of the defensive system. Of course there are some individual mistakes during the games, but I think that is something we need to work on.
“That is something that Jason will work for and we will have the time to prepare the team in this way. In a defensive system to [make sure we] don’t concede too many goals this season.”