Kaka Armband

As Kaká made his return from injury in the 60th minute of last Saturday’s game versus the Colorado Rapids, defender Will Johnson handed the captain’s armband to the former FIFA World Player of the Year.

“Will [Johnson] gave [Kaká] the captain’s armband so that’s a sign to everybody that Will respects him as the captain of this team,” said Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis. “When he’s on the field he will be the captain.”

Kaká did not expect to be given the armband in the middle of the game, but he appreciates Johnson’s gesture.

Kaká Wears Captain Armband But Won’t Carry Full Leadership Burden -

“It seems everyone understands what we want here, right now,” Kaka said. “These past two years at Orlando City, I have said, ‘the most important thing for a team to become a championship team is the group.’ We are seeing now that Orlando City is a strong group. We are showing what is important, and how we can get far as a strong group.”

Orlando City is enjoying its best start of any season since entering MLS in 2015. Additional veteran leadership have played a major part in the team’s development.

General Manager Niki Budalic told FourFourTwo that he coveted high character players like Johnson in the offseason.

“I’d say from when Jason [Kreis] first arrived we started thinking about the next season and where we needed to improve and I think going back to my offseason presentation to the board and what we needed to focus on, No. 1 was leadership and character,” Budalic said. The biggest thing for us was developing a winning mentality and a culture being a young expansion franchise and having turnover in the first two years. It was really important to establish a winning mentality and a culture. That’s why our focus was on guys like that.”

Johnson has served as the team captain since Kaká went down with a hamstring injury in the 10th minute of the season opener. Kreis says that Johnson’s style of play has impacted the entire team.

“You could see how quickly Johnson wants to close things down and how much effort he’s willing to give, the capacity for the running is top, top level,” Kreis said. “And just a real sense of urgency when we’re under some stress. Those are the reasons why you bring a Will Johnson in and I think his attitude and his work rate are infectious.”