The Vancouver Whitecaps will be looking to record their second consecutive win on Saturday when they visit Kaka-led expansion side Orlando City SC, with head coach Carl Robinson needing to come up with a game plan to stop the Brazilian superstar.
Robinson’s Whitecaps got off to a disappointing start to the 2015 MLS season earlier this month, suffering a 3-1 home loss to Canadian rivals Toronto FC, but last weekend’s 1-0 win at the Chicago Fire served to restore confidence ahead of the 1,500-mile trip to Florida.
Orlando, meanwhile, opened their season with a 1-1 draw against fellow expansion side New York City FC thanks to a last-gasp Kaka free-kick, before going on to defeat Owen Coyle’s Houston Dynamo 1-0 on the road for their first-ever MLS win.
The former AC Milan and Real Madrid maestro didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet during the club's trip to Texas but Robinson, who is in his second campaign as Whitecaps boss, knows that allowing the opposing skipper even a hint of a chance could wreck their hopes of leaving the Citrus Bowl with a positive result.
“Listen, he’s a fantastic player,” he told the club’s official website. “Fantastic ability from dead balls. If we give him a chance, he’s obviously going to thrive with that. We have to make sure we don’t give away unnecessary fouls in those areas.
“They’re a tough team. Make no doubt about any new franchise team. It’s going to be tough.”
After playing five seasons in MLS with Toronto FC and then the New York Red Bulls, Robinson retired in 2012 to join the Whitecaps coaching staff, before taking over the heading coaching position from Martin Rennie in December 2013.
The ex-Wales international’s debut campaign saw the club progress to the post-season after a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference, before falling 2-1 at FC Dallas in the knockout round, but a few winter reinforcements have made them some people’s dark horse candidates for the MLS Cup title.
Whether Kaka will hand them a wakeup call on the weekend remains to be seen but the visitors do have their own star South American newcomer, in Uruguayan striker Octavio Rivero, who has bagged both of their goals this season.