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Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers – Return of the Captain

The Orlando City Lions rose to the top spot in the Eastern Conference after thrashing the MLS defending champions Portland Timbers in the Citrus Bowl 4-1 Sunday night.

Ricardo Kaká made his first appearance of the season after being sidelined for the first three games due to injury. The “Captain” dictated the match from the opening whistle and kept all 31,114 fans in attendance on the edge of their seats when the ball was at his feet.

Kaká’s intricate passes and movements in the final-third gave creative life to the Lions who also illustrated their goal scoring prowess.

The first of many goal-scoring opportunities for Orlando came in the 13th minute. A free kick by Kaká found Seb Hines inside the box. Hines headed the ball into the back of the net, and the purple party was just getting started.

In the 32′ minute, a Kaká give-and-go with Brek Shea opened up space inside the box for Shea to smash in a goal with his left foot from a very tight angle. Shea hasn’t scored an MLS goal since 2012, and made a top 10 play look easy.

The 2-0 lead for the Lions could’ve been cut in half when a penalty kick was awarded to Portland for a handball in the box committed by the goal-scorer Brek Shea. The prolific goalscorer for Portland, Fanendo Adi, was denied from the spot by Joe Bendik’s strong right hand.

Coach Adrian Heath praised Joe Bendik’s top save in the locker room at half-time.

Orlando City picked up right where they left off at the start of the second half.

The Lions were hunting the ball in the midfield together. On numerous occasions Portland couldn’t match the intensity in the midfield and lost the ball in dangerous areas.

A counter-attack in the 48′ minute generated by the hard-working Christian Higuita, sprung open Kevin Molino on the right wing who then played the ball into the box in search of Adrian Winter. The ball was pushed away from Winter, but found the right foot of the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner.

Kaká slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-0 on the night.

Orlando City didn’t stop there, a penalty was awarded to them in the 76′ minute and Kevin Molino converted from the spot. This was Molino’s first MLS career goal, and gave him some extra confidence going forward.

Before the penalty was taken there was a moment of leadership that deserves to be noted. Kaká grabbed the ball when the penalty was awarded by the referee and many expected him to take the spot kick. But he gave the ball to Molino instead. Kaká’s motivation was something Molino highlighted during his interview.

Portland scored a consolation goal in the closing minutes of the match to ruin the clean sheet for Orlando City’s defense, but a 4-1 win at home was just what the Lions needed before playing five Eastern Conference games.

This was arguably Kaká’s greatest performance with Orlando City since joining the team.

In one game, Kaká had two assists and a goal… Just what the doctor ordered.

Orlando City travels to Philadelphia to play the Union on Friday, April 8th.

About Josh LaSelva

Originally from Ocala, Florida. University of Florida Class of 2017. Avid FIFA player willing to beat anybody. Follow me on Twitter for everything you need to know!

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