The ex-Brazil international struck a late equaliser for the home side in front of 62,510 fans at Orlando's Citrus Bowl, while New York City's captain - and former Spain representative - David Villa failed to get on the scoresheet.
United States international Mix Diskerud had threatened to upstage both team-mate Villa and Orlando captain Kaka when he curled home NYC's maiden competitive goal in the 76th minute.
But in the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Kaka stepped up to take a free-kick from 20 yards and his effort took a massive deflection to beat NYC goalkeeper Josh Saunders and spark the majority of the crowd into raucous celebrations.
In a tight encounter in Florida, Orlando generally had the better chances with Kaka much more involved than Villa.
But the former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid forward still provided a moment of class, cutting in from the right wing to tee up Diskerud with 14 minutes remaining, but Kaka had the last laugh.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.