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Kaka: 'My plan is to stay here, stay in America and play for Orlando'

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- Brazilian star Kaka wants to stay in MLS beyond the 2017 season.

The Orlando City headliner is entering the final season of the three-year deal he inked with the Lions ahead of the 2015 season, Orlando's first in the league.

In October, Kaka said that he was open to extending his contract. Now, he says that's his goal.

"I haven't spoken to the club yet but this is my plan," Kaka told ESPN FC in an interview. "My plan is to stay here, stay in America and play for Orlando. But we will see during the season what's going to happen, if it's going to be good for me and for Orlando to have another deal. But my plan and my first idea is to stay here."

Kaka was the highest earner in MLS during his first two seasons stateside. Last year, he took home $7.167 million.

The 34-year-old has appeared in 52 matches in all for Orlando City, scoring 18 goals and adding 17 assists.

The club missed the playoffs both seasons. Still, Kaka -- who won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and the UEFA Champions League twice with AC Milan -- has enjoyed his time in the United States.

Kaka has scored 18 goals and provided 17 assists in 52 matches for Orlando City.

"It's been amazing, so I'm very happy with my decision to come and join this league," said Kaka, the last player other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or as FIFA's top player. "Now I'm ready and looking forward for my third season."

Asked what's surprised him about the league, Kaka pointed to the parity between clubs at the top and bottom of the standings.

"Last season we just missed the playoffs by one point. It shows us how competitive is every game. We have to understand that to change the results of the last two seasons," Kaka said.

The 2017 campaign will mark Lions coach Jason Kreis' first full year with the team. Kreis replaced Adrian Heath last July.

"Now he's got the time to start the season, to have his own team," Kaka said.

"From the start of the season, we will be ready."

Heath, now the coach of expansion Minnesota United, wasn't the only high-profile departure from Orlando over the last year or so. Former GM Paul McDonough left in late 2015. President and club founder Phil Rawlins stepped down last month.

"Soccer is like this, this kind of change," Kaka said.

"There's not any instability on the club. The club is stable. Everybody is on the same page, everybody wants to put Orlando City on a high level and one of the best clubs in this league."

They'll take a big step toward that end by beginning the new season in a custom-built arena in downtown Orlando. Kaka is looking to one particular aspect of the venue in particular after being tenants at Camping World Stadium during their first two years.

"I've very excited that we have a natural grass field," he said. "Probably our results are going to be better because of little details, and this is one of them."

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

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