Orlando City SC may not have reached the postseason during Kaká's three-year tenure at the upstart MLS club. But the Brazilian star will depart leaving an undeniable imprint on not only the Central Florida sporting landscape, but the greater community.
Perhaps it was appropriate, then, that the former Ballon d'Or winner's last match in Orlando be played for charity. In a game dubbed the Fuerza Puerto Rico friendly to raise money for Hurricane Maria relief, Kaká had one final chance to play before the supporters and with the players who clearly meant a great deal to him.
Orlando cruised to a 6-1 win over the Puerto rican national team, but that was hardly the point.
"My career one day is going to finish," Kaká said. "But the important thing for me is that I can call [coach Jason Kreis] and say, Jay, we are friends, right? This is something I really appreciate. And for that reason, when I went off the field tonight and I see all the supporters and everybody, saying something or giving me something, it made me very, very happy. Because I know that every time that I want to come here, I’ll be welcome."
Kreis joked that he tried to get 90 minutes out of the captain's legs, although it didn't quite happen.
"To be a party of [his] last competitive match in this stadium was really, really important to me and something that I’ll remember forever," Kreis said. "And I tried to set it up so as many players as we could could get on the field with him. He was supposed to last 90 minutes, but he didn’t. I think all of them appreciate that experience as well."
Kaka finishes his MLS tenure with 75 league appearances, scoring 24 goals and assisting on 22 more. It's not clear yet whether he will retire or continue his playing career elsewhere.