Orlando City find groove with Kaka as "good luck charm"


The vibes were high Saturday night at INTER&Co Stadium, and not just because Orlando City SC thrashed 10-man D.C. United for a 5-0 victory.

Postgame, Orlando honored Brazilian legend Kaká as the first inductee to the club's Legends’ Terrace. The Ballon d'Or winner and World Cup champion, who played for the Lions from 2015-17, might have rubbed off on Oscar Pareja's group.

"Maybe having him here was a good luck charm, so maybe he has to stick around," striker Duncan McGuire joked postgame.

The jury's out on Kaka's presence inspiring Orlando or not, but one thing's certain: The Lions are starting to show glimpses of their potential.

Orlando have won three of their last four games and scored in six consecutive matches, their longest streak of the season. They're now up to seventh in the Eastern Conference, rising above the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line after a lackluster first half of 2024.

"I thought it was an outstanding first half, probably the best that we have played during the year," said Pareja. "I’ve seen that our players are getting more confident and we’re getting closer to what we were.

"We’re happy and encouraged to keep going. The second half, to play up a man, we dominated the game territorially and in spaces, but I think the overall take is we look much more like ourselves.”

As Pareja noted, Orlando benefited from D.C. defender Lucas Bartlett getting red-carded in first-half stoppage time. By then, they were already up 3-0 before goals from Facundo Torres and Ramiro Enrique iced the match.

"We've started being more creative and attacking with more urgency," said McGuire. "I think that's been shown in the last few games and definitely showed tonight. I think it's really starting to come together for us."

There's still room for Orlando to grow – they were widely picked as a Supporters' Shield contender after a club-best season in 2023.

But these early-summer returns are promising, and the Lions have their first-ever captain cheering on from afar.

"I enjoyed a lot the last season, I enjoyed when Orlando won the US [Open] Cup," Kaka said on MLS Countdown. "Now I’m supporting the team and this year, I hope Orlando can make the playoffs again. And I hope and I wish one day I can see Orlando winning MLS Cup as well."