When the New England Revolution face Orlando City on Sunday, they know they'll be opposite of Kaka, one of the league's most dangerous players. The Brazilian has an impressive resume that includes multiple league titles, a World Cup, and a FIFA World Payer of the Year award. None of this intimidates the Revolution, however, as they've been working hard to developing a game plan to keep Kaka off the board.
Kaka was sensational in his first MLS season, collecting nine goals and seven assists. Although he was injured to start the new year, the 33-year-old midfielder has already shown that there's still some magic left in his legs as he's already nabbed a goal and two assists in two appearances.
So how do you keep such a dynamic player from getting on the scoresheet? It starts in the tape room.
"It is just important to kind of see his tendencies and just know different ways to try to prevent him from getting the ball in dangerous spots," Scott Caldwell explained. "When he gets the ball and he is dribbling forward, he is good, so if we can keep his back to goal that would be huge."
Kaka has only squared off against the Revolution on one occasion, a 2-2 draw on June. 5. On that night, Caldwell and the Revolution frustrated the midfielder, limiting him to just one shot on goal. The key on that night was to always keep an eye on Kaka. It's a plan that the Revs will look to replicate this weekend.
"You just want to limit his ability to change the game, whether it be his touches or where he gets the ball on the field," Caldwell said.
While Kaka is an important player for Orlando, he's still just a part of a very talented team. The club is 2-1-2 and has not been shutout so far this season. Besides Orlando's leading scorer Cyle Larin, who's status is still unknown, the team has gotten goals from Adrian Winter (2), Kevin Molino (1) and Brek Shea (1). So while the Revs will be aware of Kaka, they know there are plenty of other players to worry about.
It's not all about defense, though, as the Revs will also be looking to push forward. The team knows that they have the roster to score goals, now it's about actually putting the ball into the back of the net.
"I’d be a little bit more concerned if we weren’t creating chances," Head coach Jay Heaps said. "Now, we have to finish. I think guys are starting to want to make sure that they’re the one finishing. Guys are getting a little bit selfish, which is fine in front of the goal, if they can get their chance and finish it."