The 2015 Major League Soccer season – the league’s 20th season overall – is getting off to a hot start this weekend with a massive expansion matchup taking centre stage.
Kaka and David Villa bringing a global spotlight to Orlando City SC Lions and New York City FC, who begin their first MLS seasons with a match against each other. Two of the best world soccer icons will highlight the biggest match of the opening weekend.
The game features two teams playing in their first ever MLS matches, though they come from very different beginnings. Orlando City is the brainchild of two Englishmen, Head Coach Adrian Heath and President Phil Rawlins, who founded the club in 2008 in Austin, Texas. The team moved to Orlando in 2011, and proceeded to dominate and build a rabid fan base to earn their entry to MLS.
New York City FC is the creation of the wealthy owners of English side Manchester City, along with the owners of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees. The team has deep pockets and the country’s biggest market in New York City, but they lacked a established fan base or players to build around.
Spanish star David Villa and Brazilian mega soccer star Kaka will lead NYCFC and Orlando City Lions into their inaugural seasons. Former Real Madrid and AC Milan man Kaka, now 32-years-old, played in Brazil in 2014-2015 where he made 19 appearances.
He helped Brazil to a World Cup title in 2002, won the Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year title in 2004 and 2006, and was recognised as the Champions League’s best midfielder in 2005. He has a unique ability when it comes to taking set pieces and making key passes during games.
David Villa, 29-years-old, is another proven attacking midfielder and played in Spain last season, with 32 La Liga games under his belt in 2013-2014. His style of play is his short game and counter attack adding a strong finish.
During 2014-2015, Kaka has scored two goals with one assist in total, and David Villa has scored thirteen goals with four assists. Shot per game average has been in favour of Villa with 2.1 per game, against Kaka’s 1.4.
NYCFC has also made some other big name signings by adding Chelsea legend Frank Lampard to operate the midfield and Mix Diskerud, a rising star on the United States Men National Team.
The Lions will be in their customary 4-2-3-1 formation, with Kaka attacking midfielder up top, spearheading the attack, while their opponents have shifted to a flat 4-4-2 in preseason, though it’s unclear how they’ll come out on Sunday.
All eyes will be on these two sides as they battle it out for bragging rights early in the season and send a message to the rest of the league.
Orlando City Soccer officials say the club has reached sellout status for its inaugural MLS match, with all 60,000 seats being snapped up. An additional allotment of 2000 standing room-only tickets has also now been sold for the Citrus Bowl.
This will clearly be the marquee MLS match-up of the weekend, and perhaps one of the most watched worldwide, with coverage on ESPN 2 in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the UK, while it will also be aired in parts of Brazil.