By MIKE GRAMAJO
Orlando City Soccer Club made history on Monday with the signing of their first Designated Player, Kaka — but had things worked out differently in the past, Orlando City SC may never had gotten their hands on the Brazilian midfielder.
Kaka spoke to reporters around the nation on Wednesday during a teleconference call, admitting that he came very close in the past to joining the New York Red Bulls and later LA Galaxy before deciding the timing wasn’t right.
“I spoke about two years ago, when I was with Real Madrid, with the New York Red Bulls,” said Kaka, who signed a guaranteed contract through 2017, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I came real close to the door, but with all that happened between both parties we couldn’t come to an agreement. After that, I came close to finalizing a deal in Los Angeles, but I choose to go to Milan because I felt I can play with joy and possibly earn a World Cup spot with Brazil.”
The 32-year old revealed that interest in joining Orlando City began in 2012 when majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva expressed interest in buying the club.
Here are more notes from Kaka’s conference call:
KAKA WANTS LEAGUE TO BE TOP FIVE IN THE WORLD
While plenty of pundits still consider MLS to be a “retirement league,” Kaka said that he still has plenty to give on the field.
Kaka is coming to the league with plenty of years under his belt but also plenty to go, and admitted as well that he could have remained with Milan for another year or even gone to play permanently back home in Brazil. However, he was convinced by the “project” at Orlando City and the chance to become a star in the USA.
“I think it’s the right moment for me because I’m not too old and not too young, but I have the experience to come and to give a lot of things to the league,” said Kaka. “This is the right moment to come to MLS. I think the league is getting better every year, increasing a lot. MLS has a great, great future in soccer, so this is my vision for American football. This Orlando City project is serious and I have to be part of this project.”
Kaka admitted as well that he isn’t very familiar with the league and its players, aside from some of the current and past Designated Players such as David Beckham and David Villa. However, Kaka is taking advice from his brother, former Red Bulls defender Digao, and others so that he is up to date on his MLS trivia come January.
“I can say that I’m studying the league. My brother (Digao) played in the league, and I have a lot of friends playing at the moment. I think it’s the moment when I start to play and understand on the field why and how I can get everything that I can to help the league, and improve my football too. My expectation is that soccer is gonna be the (top) sport in America.”
JOINING ORLANDO FROM MILAN AT LAST MINUTE
Even while transfer rumors were circulating across the globe for the last few months, Kaka waited until the very last moment to make up his mind.
The veteran midfielder was at a crossroads, and told reporters that he had three options: remain with AC Milan, move to MLS, or return home to Brazil. In the end, he decided that the chance to play with Orlando City was too big to turn down.
“I decided to come to America because of this serious project that I think is very good and for this vision about the American league that I think is getting better every year,” Kaka said. “Until the end, I thought about this because I had one more year on my contract with Milan and I had to wait six months until (Orlando City) start play in MLS.
“These six months were a problem but in the end we found a solution and I’m going to play in Brazil for Sao Paulo. It was difficult to leave Milan, the team that I played for seven years, the team that helped me arrive to top level as a soccer player, but I made the right decision to come to America.”
MONEY NOT AN ISSUE FOR KAKA
When a player such as Kaka signs with MLS, it’s assumed that money played a big role in the signing.
While it’s assumed that as a Designated Player, he’ll be receiving a nice salary, Kaka revealed that he actually took less money to come to Orlando instead of taking other, bigger offers.
“They’re (Orlando) paying me good, but I had another opportunities to earn more than they’re paying me here,” said Kaka. “My decision is not about money, but I had a lot of opportunities to earn what I get now. I always think about long-term projects. I stayed in Milan for seven years, I stayed in Madrid for four years, I played at Sao Paulo for 13 years, so I hope I can stay in Orlando for a long while.”
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES
- When asked about a potential derby between Orlando and Miami in MLS someday, Kaka said “I think it will be phenomenal.”
- On the possibility of playing on turf fields for the first time, Kaka said that he had no problem with it and he would learn to play on them.
- On the chance of Kaka’s former AC Milan and Brazil teammate Robinho coming to MLS, Kaka said he wouldn’t be surprised if a team would offer him a contract to play in the league.
- When asked about any future signings to add to the team, OCSC president Flavio Augusto da Silva said that the club have other signings in mind but “at the right time, we’re going to talk and we’re going to announce new signings.”
- Kaka conducted the entire teleconference in four languages: His native Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, and then English, of which he has a strong command.
What do you think of these notes? Excited to see a talented player spurn the Red Bulls and Los Angeles to move to Orlando? Do you agree with his statements about the future of the league?
Share your thoughts below.