Three-headed Lion: Kaka, Larin and Rivas have Orlando trending up

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City SC may have lost the top spot in the Eastern Conference in the past week, but the team still feels it is moving in the right direction, especially now that they have their key attacking axis back in full force.

The trio of veteran star Kaká and young forwards Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas collectively chalked up their 11th goal and sixth assist of the season in the club’s 2-2 home draw against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night.

It was clear for much of the game that the threesome have a fast-developing understanding in the attacking third. Larin equalized from a pinpoint Rivas cross following good work by Kaká in the 16th minute and then the Brazilian star turned in an exquisite second goal from a Scott Sutter cross while surrounded by three defenders.

Kaká, Larin and Rivas have made only three starts together so far this year, so the best could be yet to come if they can all stay fit.

Kaká (three starts, three goals) clearly enjoyed playing behind the powerful Larin (10 starts, seven goals, one assist) and livewire Rivas (eight starts, one goal, five assists), and head coach Jason Kreis pointed to their continued development as essential to Orlando’s success.

“We know [Kaká’s] a special player and we’re going to rely on special players to make special plays in these types of games,” he said. “Kaká shows up in the right spots at the right time, and that makes everyone better.

“Obviously tonight’s goal was a special one. In that much traffic to take it down the way he did and the way he calmly placed it around the defender in the far post, there are not too many players that are capable of those types of goals.”

Kreis admitted that the forced substitution of Rivas in the 64th minute, as a precaution after he took a knock to his left leg and with a match at San Jose looming on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE), definitely slowed Orlando’s attack.

“Yeah, it hurts because he’s in such a good moment right now,” he said. “He’s playing so extremely well and is creating all kinds of problems for opponents. We have to have faith and we have to have belief in some of the other guys to step in and do jobs.”

Larin is certainly thriving on playing alongside the other two, and says his partnership with Rivas is fast becoming almost telepathic.

“I think I knew where [Carlos] was going to put it once he got his head up and I made my run,” Larin said. “I think last year when we played Kansas City over there, the same play happened and I didn’t finish it, but I made sure I finished this one.

“[The chemistry with Rivas] is good, and it’s getting better every week. We just have to keep working on it together, both defensively and offensively.”