Kaka, Pedro Ribeiro - Orlando City SC - warming up
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Kaka out again for Orlando City, Antonio Nocerino expected to be available vs. Chicago Fire

Kaká will miss his second consecutive match when Orlando City SC hosts the Chicago Fire on Friday (7:30 pm ET, UniMas and UDN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada), but newly acquired midfielder Antonio Nocerino should be available to make his MLS debut for the Lions.

Orlando head coach Adrian Heath told reporters on Tuesday that Kaká, who suffered a thigh strain in the buildup to Sunday’s season opening 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake, won’t be available for Friday’s match. Heath is hopeful that the Brazilian star will be ready for the Lions’ March 18 game at New York City FC.

“He crossed a ball in training, stopped and felt something, and it got progressively worse, so he had to come off,” Heath explained on radio station 96.9 The Game on Tuesday morning. “He had a little bleed in there and we obviously had an MRI scan and it showed a grade-one tear, which is obviously not good but is the best it can be.

“If it would have been a grade three, we would be looking at months. He felt a lot better yesterday [Monday], but Friday will probably be a bit early for him. We’re hopeful for the New York City game, though.”

Heath insisted they would be treating Kaká with kid gloves at this stage, especially as they have a mini-break after the New York game during the international week.

“You have to be careful because it’s one of them where it might be a few days, but, if you re-aggravate it, it can suddenly become weeks and months,” he explained. “With it being so early in the season, the most important thing is common sense. If it needs two weeks, it needs two weeks, but let’s have him back after that.”

Brazil have already released Kaká from their World Cup squad for the qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay on March 25 and 29, which suggests he might not make a full return for Orlando until the home game with Portland on April 3.

“Yes, the injury is probably why he is out of the Brazil squad,” Heath confirmed. “He will be disappointed because he’s given his country a lot of service over the years, and I know how much playing for Brazil means to him, but that’s our gain, I think. I’m being selfish now and we need him here fit and well.”

Heath also said that Nocerino, the former AC Milan player who arrived in Orlando from Italy last week, is expected to be fit and available for Friday’s match. Midfielders Cristian Higuita and Carlos Rivas should also be available after they missed Sunday’s opener due to a one-game red card suspension and ankle injury, respectively.

Midfielder Darwin Ceren will join Kaká on the sidelines on Friday; the Salvadoran will be serving a one-game suspension after picking up a red card against RSL. 

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