(Photo by Mark Thor / Orlando City SC)

Match Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Despite coming off the bench, Orlando City SC’s Ricardo Kaká and Carlos Rivas made the biggest impact in the Lions’ bout with the Colorado Rapids Saturday afternoon. First, Rivas scored in the 70th minute to open the match’s scoring; then, Kaká sealed the victory with a stoppage-time score, giving Orlando City (6-1-0, 18 points) a 2-0 win over Colorado (1-5-1, 4 points) in front of a sold-out crowd at Orlando City Stadium.

“We’ve got a very happy locker room, obviously, and a happy coaching staff,” City head coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “Everybody, I think, feels really good about where we sit right now. From my point of view, it’s great to talk about the wins, but I prefer to talk about the performance at the moment because I feel this was a game where we improved. It was a difficult game with the conditions and the heat, and it took us a while, I think, to kinda get there, but, at the end of the day, we’re playing some pretty good soccer and creating some good chances, and it’s exciting to be a part of at the moment.”

Kaká and Rivas entered the game in the 59th minute, and there was an immediately noticeable difference in City’s pace. After two near-goal chances, one courtesy of Kaká, Rivas finished on one. From the top-left part of Colorado’s box, Rivas received the ball from midfielder Cristian Higuita, took a touch and rocketed the ball past the outstretched arms of Rapids goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

“I’m really excited about it,” Rivas said through a translator after the match. “I honestly didn’t anticipate that that was going to happen. I saw the perfect chances to take the goals that I like to take with the left strike, and everything happened the way it did.

“I think I’ve been trying to get this goal for many games now, and when the opportunity finally came, I thought it was just beautiful.”

With Colorado still pressing for an equalizer, Kaká dashed any hopes of a draw with his stoppage-time score. City striker Cyle Larin penetrated Colorado’s box and took a shot from the left. The shot bounced off the right post, rolling straight in front of Kaká for the second goal of the match.

“I cannot put in words what I’m feeling, what is the emotion to be back, to play, to score and win another game at home,” Kaká said after the match. “The feeling that when I came on the field and all the supporters clapping and saying my name was unbelievable, so, thank you for everybody that were here today and make this day so special for me.”

Man of the Match: Carlos Rivas

Throughout the early 2017 Major League Soccer Season, Kreis has said that Rivas has deserved to score a goal because of the work he’s put in during the offseason and during training. On Saturday, Rivas got his long-anticipated goal.

Rivas finished the match with two shots (two on goal) and two tackles, completing 73.3 percent of his 15 passes in 30 minutes of action.

What’s next?

Orlando City will embark on a two-game road trip, beginning with a trip to face Toronto FC on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

The Return of the Captain

Kaká made his first appearance for Orlando City since suffering a hamstring injury in a 1-0 win over New York City FC in the team’s season-opener. In 30 minutes of play, the Brazilian scored his first goal of the season.

For Kaká, he’s ready to keep playing more minutes.

“I’m ready to play,” Kaká said. “So, tonight, Jason asked me for 30 minutes, and I was ready. And we will see the next game and the next games how long I can play, and I’ll be ready to—and I’ll be available to play, and we will see for how long.”

When Kaká substituted on in the 59th minute, Will Johnson, who served as the Lions’ captain in Kaká’s absence, gave the 35-year-old the captain’s armband. That wasn’t something Kaká necessarily wanted.

“It’s an important gesture from him,” Kaká said. “Actually, I didn’t want that kind of gesture in the middle of the game, but I really appreciate that, and seems that everybody understand what we want here right now because following Orlando City along the two years, I always said that the most important thing for our team become a champion team is the group.

“So, we are seeing now that the Orlando City—it’s a strong group, and we are showing how it’s important and how we can get far with this strong group.”

Said Kreis on Johnson giving Kaká the captain’s armband: “I think you saw what happened on the field. Will gave him the captain’s armband, so I think that’s a sign to everybody that Will respects him as the captain of this team. And when he’s on the field, he will be the captain.”

Kaká complimented Kreis on his job as head coach since joining the team in the middle of the 2016 season.

“We have to say that Jason is doing a very good job. It’s unbelievable,” Kaká said. “The players that just came and join us—everybody’s helping us. Every player that’s playing every game is giving the team and the club the identity that we want, so, no matter who’s playing but matters that Orlando City’s playing and show that we are a team that’s gonna fight to the end.”

Scott Sutter Is Finding Success in Purple

Right-back Scott Sutter was instrumental in Saturday’s match in helping Orlando City maintain possession toward the end of the match. The London, England, native finished with one shot (one on goal) and three tackles, created two chances and completed 80.6 percent of his 36 passes.

“Yeah, he was excellent. Really, really excellent,” Kreis said. “Especially with his contribution with the ball, as you said. I thought him and [left-back Donny Toia] both took up some good spaces for us when we had the ball. Played a little higher than we have had them playing on previous nights, and, because of that, I think opened up some real space to operate in.”

For Sutter, the key to his success has been the club and atmosphere generated by the personnel, both on and off the pitch.

“The key has just been the club in general—just how easy everyone’s made coming here for me from everyone,” Sutter said after the match. “Everyone from the back-room staff to Eric, the team manager, who’s just been helping, like, me get settled. It’s just been really great. And the guys, plus Jason, have just made everything so easy. I can’t really thank them enough.

“I’ve just come into a new team, a new country, a new league, and I’m just picking up where I kind of left off. So, that’s really been the key. The happier I am, the better football I kinda tend to play. So, as long as that continues, then it’ll keep me happy.”

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Kaká joined his team on the bench to start the match on Saturday, the first time he was listed in the playing squad since suffering a hamstring injury in the team’s season-opening 1-0 win over New York City FC.
  • When Kaká entered the game in the 59th minute, he was given back the captain’s armband by Johnson.

Scoring

Time Team Goal-scorer Assisted by
70’ Orlando City SC Carlos Rivas Cristian Higuita
91’ Orlando City SC Ricardo Kaká n/a

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal Possession %
Orlando City SC 2 1 14 6 55.2%
Colorado Rapids SC 0 0 3 1 44.8%

Orlando City SC starting XI (4-4-2): Joe Bendik (GK); Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Tommy Redding, Scott Sutter; Cristian Higuita, Antonio Nocerino, Will Johnson (C), Giles Barnes; Cyle Larin, Matías Pérez García

Colorado Rapids starting XI (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath (GK/C); Mekeil Williams, Jared Watts, Bobby Burling, Eric Miller; Dillon Powers, Michael Azira; Kevin Doyle, Mohammed Saeid, Marlon Hairston; Alan Gordon

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