Kaká's late goal salvages draw for Orlando City in MLS debut

By Andrew O'Brien, Web Content Editor
Last Updated: Monday, March 09, 2015, 12:28 AM EDT

Orlando City appeared to be headed for a heartbreaking defeat to New York City FC in Sunday's Major League Soccer debut for both clubs.

Then Kaká, the player Orlando City signed to lead them into the MLS era, came to the rescue for the Lions.

Trailing 1-0 in the 91st minute, Kaká's free kick deflected off a leaping New York City FC player and trickled into the back of the net as the Orlando Citrus Bowl erupted.

"I was very happy when I saw it go in," Kaka said after the game of his historic goal. "Felt good. I obviously wanted to make the first goal of the MLS season opener for us, but it was a good moment."

Despite having the better of the play throughout most of the first half and much of the second half, the Lions found themselves in a hole with less than 15 minutes to play.

In the 76th minute, New York City FC's Mix Diskerud sent a curling right-footed shot into the side-netting past Orlando City keeper Donovan Ricketts.

Orlando City pushed ahead over the next 10 minutes in search of the tying goal, but the Lions went down to 10 men after Aurelien Collin was sent off with a red card for a tough tackle on NYCFC's David Villa.

As the clocked ticked past 90 minutes and into stoppage time, Orlando City turned to its star player. Kaká's goal came just in time for a city that has been patiently waiting for a reason to deliver an MLS-caliber roar.

Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said he wasn't "completely delighted" with the final score because he felt his side played a good game. Still, the Lions earned a point in their MLS debut.

"I'm extremely proud with everyone," Heath said after the game. "The staff, the players and our supporters. It was absolutely incredible. Something I'll remember forever."

Kaká echoed his coach's statements, saying the result wasn't what the players wanted. He said the atmosphere was "incredible," though.

"We have a lot to improve, but thank you for everyone who participated in this moment for us. It was a different environment and crowd. But we are in a good place and have a lot to work on."

Orlando City outshot New York City FC, 15-8. The Lions were also issued three yellow cards for diving. Orlando City said the game's official attendance was 62,510.

The Lions will travel to take on the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13.

Match highlights

New York City FC gets the match underway at the Citrus Bowl at 5:12 p.m. Follow below for match updates ...

FULL TIME: Orlando City 1, New York City 1

90th minute (plus 1): GOAL -- Kaka's free kick from 18 yards is deflected by the leaping wall and finds the back of the night.

90th minute: There will be four minutes of stoppage time as Orlando City trails NYCFC, 1-0.

84th minute: Orlando City are down to 10 men after Aurelien Collin is sent off with a red card for a tackle on NYCFC's David Villa.

80th minute: Orlando City makes a change: Bryan Rochez comes on for Lewis Neal.

78th minute: A third Lions player, Christian Higuita, is issued a yellow card for diving.

76th minute: GOAL -- Silence in Orlando. Mix Diskerud gives NYCFC a 1-0 lead on a curling right-footed shot from just inside the 18-yard box.

68th minute: NYCFC has its best chance of the game so far: Build-up attack provides substitute Khiry Shelton with a good chance from inside the box, but his shot slides right past the far post. Seconds later, Nemec fires high for NYCFC, who have taken over a bit of the momentum.

63rd minute: Rivas gets in behind the NYCFC defense again, but he's offsides.

60th minute: Higuita is taken down right on the edge of the box. Orlando City with a set piece from 18 yards away ... Kaka taps it to Rivas, who lashes it just wide of the near post on a screaming left-footed shot. The game is still scoreless.

54th minute: NYCFC's Jason Hernandez gets a yellow card for a foul on Rivas, who was almost in on a break toward goal.

50th minute: Josh Williams sends the ball into Orlando City's box, but David Villa can't get on the other end of it, and the ball goes out for a goalkick. End-to-end start to the second half.

48th minute: Molino's left-footed strike seemed destined for the bottom right corner, but Saunders made a big diving stop. The ensuing corner gets into the box, and Amobi Okugo's shot is cleared off the line.

46th minute: Molino and Kaka get the second half underway. Will someone find the back of the net in the second 45 minutes?

Orlando City has created most of the first-half opportunities, but New York City FC have been able to shut down any threat. The Lions have outshot NYCFC, 8-3. The Lions have had three corner kicks, and NYCFC has had zero.

HALFTIME: Orlando City 0, New York City FC 0 ... Both teams created a few chances over the first 45 minutes, but it's scoreless at the break.

45th minute: Carlos Rivas blasts a shot high above the bar from about 15 yards. Great chance toward the end of the first half.

42nd minute: Mehdi Ballouchy, of New York City FC, gets his team's first yellow card for a hard foul on Higuita.

40th minute: Orlando City's Kevin Molino gets a yellow card for diving (faking a foul). That's the second such instance for Orlando City in the first half.

38th minute: Thunderous right-footed strike from Kaka, but New York City FC keeper Josh Saunders punches it away with his fists.

34th minute: Most of the play continues to favor Orlando City. Kaka earns a foul after a quick turn before a break, but the free kick doesn't turn into anything.

29th minute: Brek Shea goes into the referee's book with a yellow card for simulation (faking a foul).

28th minute: Carlos Rivas' shot from distance is deflected out for a corner. Kaka's corner sits in the box for a minute, but nothing's doing.

23rd minute: Brek Shea's cross is deflected out for a corner. Kaka swings it in right his right foot, but it's cleared away at the near post. We're still scoreless.

14th minute: Crazy sequence after Orlando City swings a set piece into the box. New York City FC keeper Josh Saunders collides with Seb Hines. Saunders crashed into the post, but he remains on the field after some medical attention.

12th minute: Kaka finds the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, but his left-footed strike sprays past the front of the goal and out for a goal kick.

8th minute: Adam Nemec nearly puts New York City FC ahead with a header from the 6-yard box, but it goes wide. He slipped in behind the Orlando City back line.

2nd minute: Orlando City gets its first chance of the match after Kaka swings in set piece into the box, but Seb Hines' header goes wide.

Original story

It's an historic day in Orange County.

Orlando City SC begins its inaugural Major League Soccer season as the Lions host New York City FC at 5 p.m. in the Orlando Citrus Bowl.

About 62,000 people are expected to fill the stadium as the Lions look to grab three points to open the 2015 season.

New York City FC is also in its first MLS season, and Sunday will mark the first time in league history that two expansion teams start their league histories against each other.

Orlando City's starting lineup, via the team's Twitter account: