By MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City’s long awaited pursuit of Ricardo Kaka is finally over.
Orlando City SC announced on Tuesday morning that they have signed Brazilian superstar Kaka to a designated player contract, which will run through 2017.
“I’m happy to be here in Orlando. I said one day I’ll like to play in America,” said Kaka. “This thing started in 2012 when we had our first meeting when Flavio said to me he had this dream to built this amazing thing in America. It’s a dream come true.”
Orlando City aren’t expected to make their Major League Soccer debut until March 2015, leaving Kaka to rejoin his boyhood club in Brazil, Sao Paulo FC, for six months before coming back to Orlando just in time for preseason camp.
“We not only brought a Brazilian superstar, we brought a world superstar,” said Club president Phil Rawlins. “Today is the day when we put MLS on notice. We may be franchise No. 21, but we’re not here to make up the numbers, we’re here to win. We’ve created a strategy and a tradition of wining soccer matches and championships, we want to do that in Major League Soccer.”
The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year spent the 2013/2014 season in Italy, playing in the Serie A for AC Milan, but failed to qualify to European contention, triggering an exit from the Italian club. The midfielder is heralded with winning the FIFA World Cup with Brazil in 2002.
Kaka told reporters that he’s been aware of Orlando City since 2012 and his friendship with club majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva played a factor in the decision to play for the Lions.
“I thought the moment to come was arriving and Orlando was the project I want to be part of,” said Kaka. “I didn’t come to America to enjoy the American lifestyle, I chose to come because I want to win the league, do something special for my career and this team. I can be an example for other players to come and enjoy playing soccer in America. I spoke with Los Angeles (Galaxy), and New York (Red Bulls).”