ORLANDO, Fla. – When it comes to Designated Players, Orlando City SC certainly aren’t content to wait around.
Even before the balloons dropped to celebrate the club’s official entry into MLS in 2015, majority owner Flávio Augusto da Silva let the club’s fans in on a little secret. On Wednesday, da Silva admitted he’d be headed to Europe to hold talks with a "very special" target.
Da Silva could not confirm the identity of the player, of course, but he did paint a vivid picture of the player expected to be the face of the club in two year’s time.
“We want a player who is literally a soccer star – worldwide, well known and very well recognized – just to represent our team in the first season,” da Silva told MLSsoccer.com. “This is our goal. I cannot say the name [of the player] that we’re prospecting right now, but we’re going to bring someone very important and very special.”
Far from stage-induced bluster, the club’s business plan even calls for a DP investment in their first year in MLS. In fact, they’ve already spoken to Brazilian playmaker Kaká – da Silva's good friend and countryman – about the possibility of coming to MLS when his contract with AC Milan runs out in 2015.
“We’ve had discussions with Kaká," club president Phil Rawlins said. “He’s very well known to the organization. We’ll have to see what the next two years bring for him with the World Cup and AC Milan, but if he wants to come here, he’d be very very welcome. I know he loves Central Florida, his family loves it. We’ll see.”
The former FIFA World Player of the year is certainly familiar with the club, both from his relationship with da Silva and his offseason visit to the club's training facilities.
Still, that’s no guarantee, according to da Silva.
“I believe that every team would like to have Kaká in their team, of course, Orlando City as well,” da Silva said. “But I cannot say Kaká because Kaká now is playing very well in Milan. Kaká is a great friend of mine. We already work together with my company in Brazil. But why not? The only thing I can say right now is that we’re going to bring someone very, very special.”
And although the club has referred to a “Brazilian Beckham” to help put them on the map, the player doesn’t necessarily have to come from the land of samba, according to Rawlins.
It just has to be the right fit as they embark on a search to make good on their word that a star will pull on the purple of Orlando City come 2015.
“We made a commitment right from the beginning. Our business plan calls for us to have a DP,” Rawlins said. “We’ve called him the Brazilian Beckham. Obviously, with our connections in Brazil, we hope to bring up a very very strong Designated Player and have them here in the first year.
"It is our plan to have a Designated Player in 2015. The search will start now. We’ll start looking around the world for that player.”