(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

June 16, 2017 at Sylvan Lake Park

Availability: HC Jason Kreis, MF Ricardo Kaká

HC Jason Kreis

Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin was charged with a DUI early Thursday morning.

Yeah, I spoke to him last night briefly. Cyle is obviously distraught and very, very disappointed, I think, in himself and his decision but is wanting to move forward as quickly as possible. And so—you know, at the moment, I think that the most important thing—are two things, really. I think from a leadership of this club and this team, this organization, it’s important that we make it very clear that we’re not happy with his decision. We disagree vehemently, and it goes against what we’ve tried to establish here in this club and how we want to comport ourselves publicly. On a private side of things, though, we are also—believe very strongly that we’re a family. And family’s come together when mistakes happen. So we need to be strict in our view of it and tell Cyle and tell the rest of the group that these decisions are poor, and they affect everybody. It doesn’t just affect Cyle now. It affects the entire team. But then we need to move on from that and say that we’re family. And family members forgive. And we try to help each other in these times of need.

For Kreis, he would be surprised if any of his players were in this situation.

I would say that I would be surprised by anybody getting into this situation and making this type of decision. And so it’s—I can’t say that Cyle is more surprising than anybody else. I think anybody—having to wake up to that phone call yesterday morning was difficult no matter whether it was Cyle Larin or anybody else on this team.

Kreis doesn’t regularly check in on players to make sure they’re not out late. He believes that their maturity as “grown men” doesn’t warrant that oversight.

You know, it’s a—from a philosophical-leadership point of view, it’s not something that I try to keep tabs on. I think these are grown men, and so I’m not going to—we don’t set curfews. We don’t set strict rules about players not being able to go out or be out at a certain time. But at the same point, then, if we’re gonna give players that much respect and that much leeway, they need to be held accountable for their decisions, as Cyle is now. And as I said before, this isn’t just a Cyle Larin situation. When it comes to the discipline of this, it’s now affecting the entire team and the entire club.

Larin’s DUI was addressed during a team meeting that elaborated on the idea that this was not something that was acceptable.

We don’t hide issues. We address things head on with our group. We tell them a lot of times that we believe in honest and clear communication, and that’s not always easy. And so we did address it this morning with the entire group to make sure that everybody is crystal clear that this is not something that we think is okay.

Kreis has never had to deal with this with his players in the past.

I have not. I would say that that adds to a little bit of my disappointment because I intend to lead the group in a certain way. I intend to be clear in my communication of what is acceptable and what is not. We intended—we went into this offseason trying to do something a little different, to make sure that the players understood that how they act in this community and the decisions that they make when they were in public are really, really important things to us. So, to have this situation occur after we give that communication was difficult—very, very difficult. But, for me, on a personal level, I hope that that I lead a group based on my actions to show that this type of situation is also unacceptable. And I take it as a little bit of a mark on myself as well.

Entering the preseason, Kreis sent a message to the players that excessive partying was not going to be acceptable.

You know, during the offseason, we had several occasions where we were with some of our most ardent fans, and we—I had heard directly from some of those fans that [a lot of partying was] happening a little bit too much. That’s why we went into the preseason and were very clear with our messaging for the players that this was no longer gonna be acceptable.

For Kreis, this is an opportunity for his team to become closer.

Again, part of the message this morning, for me, is that this is a little bit about life now. We all go through very difficult circumstances. We all make mistakes. We all have things that happen bad in our lives that we don’t like and we don’t want to deal with. And so now it’s about how are we going to react to that. And from my point of view, I look at this and want to spin this immediately and say really, really difficult situation that we’re in, both on the match and from Cyle’s decision the night after the match. And it’s on us to have a positive reaction to that. It’s on us, now—I think we—this is a moment and an opportunity for us to come together tighter than we ever have before and show our fans and our people what we’re made of and who we are.

Larin is not yet enrolled in Major League Soccer’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program.

No, the evaluation will begin, I believe, on Sunday. The last I heard is that it would be Sunday. Obviously with so many moving parts here and so many people involved in these decisions, you never know crystal clear. As of yesterday night, I heard that he would be enrolling in that starting on Sunday, and it would be a five-day evaluation process to see what may or may not happen past that.

Every match, for Kreis, is a challenge. The Lions host the Montreal Impact on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Montreal has shown us over the past couple of games that they’re a team that’s coming into a little bit of form. They’re a team that’s, I think, coming into a little bit of an identity. Had a really, really strong result and performance against Kansas City away, showed some real resolution, and so we know that this is a team that is quite capable. We know that this is a team that has some incredibly gifted attacking players. And it’s a massive challenge for us. Again, every game in this league is, I think, very much the same. I feel like sometimes I’m pushing the play button on the recorder, but I do mean it. Massive challenge for us. And as I said, for me, this is now an opportunity for us to show how we can react to two very negative things this week.

Instead of looking at the loss of Larin as a negative, Kreis prefers to see it as a positive opportunity for another player to step up.

Again, you look at the very negatives of the situation to lose a player like Cyle for what could be an extended period of time, or you can look at the positive situation and say this is an opportunity for others to step forward and an opportunity not just—I don’t think it’s just Player X for Cyle Larin. I think it’s Player—all of the players recognizing that all of us need to do more to help this team to score goals and win games.

The collective mood of Kreis’ side has been good, despite the 3-1 loss to Miami FC on June 14 and Larin’s DUI.

It’s good. It’s good. The collective mood was good. I think we took care of, obviously, a lot of the formalities and the discussions in the locker room before we came out. And so from that aspect, I think it was—I think everybody’s on the exact same page. And the mood around the training today was exactly like it’s been all year. Fantastic. The guys are together.

Before Larin’s DUI, Kreis hadn’t thought much about how MLS approaches these types of situations.

I can’t speak to why because, you know, I wasn’t a part of that, those decision-making processes. I can only speak to—that I do think it’s difficult, obviously. And as I said, this is my first time going through it, so I had no real idea what exactly this would all entail… I certainly knew—I mean, if you look at some of the occasions that have happened before, typically you see that players are out for a couple weeks and those evaluations and rehabilitation processes. I knew that it would be potentially something serious, but I didn’t know right away that it was going to be meaning that he was gonna be out for our next two matches. So that’s difficult.

I think from—again, from a humanistic point of view and not from a point of view of somebody that’s on the inside of it now and having to deal with his decision, I think it might be the right moment. It’s very important that we recognize that these men out here are not just soccer players. They’re people. They’re human beings, and sometimes those human beings might need some help.

Center-back Seb Hines injured his right knee in the first minute of a 1-0 Orlando City B loss to Toronto FC II on June 14. He’s doing better than initially expected.

Seb was—ended up being a lot better than we thought he would be. He went down very, very awkwardly in that match. We had feared the worst that it would be another knee injury that would keep him out for an extended period of time. But upon evaluation, he actually feels quite good. And so we think we can continue to move forward with his rehabilitation process.

MF Ricardo Kaká

Kaká was “very surprised” to hear about Larin’s DUI.

Well we were very surprised. It was tough day for us after the game that we had on Wednesday. And just wake up and see the news what happened with a very close and very friendly teammate. So, it’s a tough week for us, but also it’s a great opportunity to take this situation as a motivation and good situation to change, improve and show that Orlando City’s different club.

For Kaká, the adversity Orlando City has faced this past week is an opportunity to channel it into the Montreal match.

It’s not easy because a lot of things happened this week. But now it’s, as I said, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the situation and be ready for the next game and focus for what we want. That’s win. So, it’s a—the situation is just a very, very good opportunity. So it’s hard, but we have to work on that.

Larin’s specific situation is the first of its kind for Kaká. But he has had teammates in the past that have had problems with alcohol and “something like that.”

This is the first situation, actually, that happened like this. But, of course, I had a few teammates that had some problems with alcohol and something like that. And, as I said, it’s a great opportunity to help them and to say, to show them that we are together. Of course, we are not agree with the situation and with what Cyle did. And we know how serious is that. But, as I said, here, we are his teammates, and we are going to support him in this situation to get out of that the best way and with the best lessons for him. I think he’s gonna pay a lot in all sense, and now, as a teammate, I think our behavior and what we need to do now it’s be with him, saying that we are not agree with this situation, but we still love Cyle Larin.

Kaká said the lifestyle of both athletes and everyday people has changed.

Now, I think it’s part of the—everybody’s life. It’s not just athletes. When I start my career, there is a whole model for athletes. So, sleep early, no drink, eat [healthy] food—these kind of things. So this is the whole model for athletes. But now is different. The situation is different. And, as I said, it’s not just for athletes. It’s for everybody. There is no more whole model for athletes or something like that. Of course, there is other that still think that the body is the most important that we have, and this is my case. I think my body—it’s my investment, so I need to take care of him. But, as I said, a lot of players, and there’s—they try to have a normal life. So Cyle is not the exception.

When asked if he drinks, Kaká had a one-word answer.

No.

Becoming a father is one of the best events to have happened in Kaká’s life, but being away from his kids is also one of the worst parts.

It’s amazing. It’s one of the best thing that happened in my life. So I have two kids: Luca and Isabella. And every time that I can have time with them, can spend time with them, it’s just amazing. Just try to have every moment with my kids become a very, very good experience. So, I’m so happy that I have this experience in my life to be a father.

It’s very hard [to be away from my kids]. Be father is one of the best things in my life, and be away from them is one of the worst things that’s happened in my life. But I had to adjust my life and also them. And then, as I use a tough period as a good opportunity to increase and learn things, the same thing I use for this period with away from my kids. It’s a great opportunity to show then how I love them and have time—quality time, not a quantity time. So, lot of things that I can show them and have this as an opportunity to be the better father.

Now, City will be without both Larin and midfielder Antonio Nocerino, who was given a red card in the 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire on June 4, suspending him for the next MLS match.

I think we have to focus on the game. Of course, we had a tough week with this problem with Cyle, with the game that we lost. But it’s time to—soccer is good because we have opportunity to change the situation after two days, three days. So, that’s very good. So let’s take this game against Montreal as a good opportunity to be back on track.

While the focus is on Montreal’s Igancio Piatti, Kaká knows that he’s not the only dangerous part of the Canadian side.

They’re very good. They played very good their last games, and Piatti’s one of the best players in this league. He’s very talented player, so he can change the game, and he can score in every single moment. So we need to be aware of that. But Montreal is not just Piatti. They have a very good team, good coach, and we need to be ready for the game tomorrow. And I think we are. So, the situation this week make us better and stronger. So, we are going to show this tomorrow.

Faced with adversity, Kaká said that Saturday is a chance to show “how strong this group is.”

It’s a great opportunity to be together as well. So, we are gonna show how strong this group is. So, again, this is a great opportunity to show them that we are together, that we are going to face this situation together. And what a great opportunity we have tomorrow.


For more on Orlando City’s reaction and response to Larin’s DUI, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.

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