Kaka: 'No problem' in being left off Brazil's Copa America squad

SANFORD, Fla. -- Orlando City midfielder Kaka says he has "no problem" with the decision by Brazil manager Dunga to leave him off of the 23-man squad for this summer's Copa America Centenario.

Given that Brazil will play its second group-stage game against Haiti in Kaka's home stadium, the Citrus Bowl, there was speculation that the former Ballon d'Or winner might make the final 23.

But a thigh injury has limited Kaka to just three appearances this season for Orlando, though he did record two goals and two assists in that time. And while Kaka is expected to play this in Orlando's home match this Friday against the New York Red Bulls, that return to health wasn't enough to make the final cut.

Kaka's most recent appearance for Brazil was in October, when he came on for the final 15 minutes of a 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Venezuela.

"I respect Dunga's decision," Kaka told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview following Thursday's training session with Orlando. "I tried, I'm ready to play, no problem at all. I still have my team [Orlando City] here, so I will keep playing and if the opportunity comes in the future, I will be happy to serve my national team."

Kaka has played 91 times for the Selecao since making his debut in 2002, appearing in three World Cups -- including the cup-winning side of 2002 -- and scoring 29 goals. But incredibly, none of those appearances have come at a Copa America.

"It was different situations," he explained. "Sometimes the team, [the coach] decided to rotate the players that played the most for the national team because Brazil played a lot of competitions in a row for [many] years."

Brazil is still in the process of working its way back from a soul-crushing 7-1 defeat to Germany on home soil in the semifinals of the last World Cup. Following the resignation of manager Felipe Scolari after that tournament, the Brazilian Football Federation opted to bring back Dunga as manager.

"I think Dunga has got a lot of experience," said Kaka. "He played for the national team for a long time and he knows the atmosphere there, how to manage the press, the pressure, so he can give a lot to the national team. It's not easy to be the coach for the Brazilian national team. But I think he's doing very good."

Brazil did win 11 games in a row following Dunga's appointment, most of them in friendlies, but the Selecao's progression has been uneven since then. Brazil was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Copa America when it lost to Paraguay on penalties.

After six matches of the marathon 18-game World Cup qualifying campaign, Brazil currently lies in sixth place with nine points, but just one point outside of an automatic qualification place. Included in that record is a valuable road point against bitter rival Argentina. Kaka is convinced Brazil will ultimately pull through and not only qualify, but also perform well in Russia.

"I think the bottom of the situation was after the World Cup," said Kaka. "So 7-1 against Germany was tough for us Brazilians. I think we are doing good, but I think it's a transition time for us, for Brazil.

"In my opinion, we are going to be ready for the next World Cup. We still have time to grow this team, to get more mature, have more experience for a lot of young players. But for the next World Cup in 2018, Brazil will be there, and we will be a very good team."

The transition that Kaka alluded to is reflected in Dunga's Copa America squad. In addition to Kaka's omission, former mainstays such as Oscar, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and David Luiz were also left off, with the last three not even making Brazil's 40-man preliminary roster.

Barcelona star Neymar was also omitted from the Copa America roster in order to allow him to participate in the Olympic Games later this summer.