ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis had mentioned before Saturday’s contest against the Colorado Rapids that All-Star midfielder Ricardo Kaka’ would make his much anticipated return to the lineup. The Lions, who have the Eastern Conference’s best record, welcomed his return in the second half and jumpstarted themselves to a 2-0 victory over the Rapids to stay undefeated in their new stadium.
Kaka’, who was injured after ten minutes in the team’s season opener, came on the field to a standing ovation for the sellout crowd in the early part of the second half. After entering the game, City midfielder Will Johnson handed him back his captain armband, which he had been wearing ever since the team’s star midfielder’s injury six weeks ago. After his entry in the second half, his play ignited the team for the rest of the game.
“I cannot put into words what I am feeling. The emotion to be back, to play to score and win another game at home. The feeling when I came on the field, with all the supporters cheering and clapping. It was unbelievable. Thank you for today and making this day so special.”- Orlando midfielder Kaka’ on his return to the City Lineup
He scored his first goal of the season in extra time to put a bow on arguably Orlando City’s best game of the season. Kaka’ found the back of the net after Cyle Larin’s shot hit the far post and left Kaka’ right on the door step for an easy tap in. More importantly for him, he finally had a chance to celebrate with the fans in the team’s standing room only section of the stadium.
Carlos Rivas opened the scoring midway through the second half. After he and Kaka’ entered the game in the 59th minute, Rivas used his speed to create space and fired a rocket past the Rapids goalkeeper Zac MacMath. That goal was his first of the season and it gave the Lions a 1-0 lead in the 70th minute.
“I think often times players that are strikers, they occasionally need to take a little bit of a picture of a different picture from the game from sitting on the sideline or relieve a little bit of the pressure from starting the game and then come in and contribute. And he made a massive one today so really, really pleased for him that he finally got the goal that break the camel’s back hopefully and I believe we’re going to see incredible things moving forward from him.” – Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis on Carlos Rivas impact coming off the bench
Rivas’ play and energy gave new life to a City team that was struggling like their opponents to keep up with the temperatures reaching over 90 degrees for most of the game. The game had a few stoppages to give players water so that they could stay hydrated throughout the game.
The good news for City fans is that the victory keeps the Lions at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 6-1-0 record. However, the team has a short turnaround as they get prepared to play Montreal on Wednesday evening.
Man of The Match: Orlando’s Carlos Rivas
Rivas (1st of the season) | Assist: Higuita – 70th Minute
Kaka’ (1st of the season) – 90th Minute
Yellow – Perez’ Garcia: 36th minute, Redding: 74th minute
Yellow – Doyle: 19th minute, Azira: 34th minute, Burling: 90th minute
Rivas for Barnes: 59th minute
Kaka’ for Perez’-Garcia: 59th minute
Gil for Higuita: 85th minute
Badji for Gordon: 58th minute
Serna for Hairston: 74th minute
Gashi for Doyle: 78th minute
Danny Thompson is a contributing sports reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org