Ercan Kara's debut season with Orlando City was an interesting ride. The Austrian striker arrived as a Designated Player before the start of the year with decent fanfare. It took a while for Kara to settle into Major League Soccer, but his first season was largely succesful.
Kara scored 11 goals in just over 1,700 minutes for Orlando City last season. His strike rate of 0.56 goals per 90 is only slightly below his career average and a respectable number for a starting striker in MLS.
Many Orlando City fans grew frustrated with Kara even with his strong results. The Austrian had moments throughout the season where he fell out of form, and he was even replaced by Benji Michel at times down the stretch.
Through the good and the bad moments of his debut season, Kara showed he has potential to be a good striker in MLS. He could eclipse good and become one of the better No. 9's in the league this season.
Orlando City was a deeply flawed team last season. For all of its talent on paper, the group lacked, particularly in the final third. Orlando finished with the fourth fewest expected goals in the entire league per FBRef. The Lions also finished in the bottom ten for expected assists.
The team's general chance creation numbers like shot-creating actions and key passes were in the middle of the pack, but the quality of those chance were poor.
A striker like Kara relies heavily on quality chance creation to affect games. He lives in the opponent's penalty box and looks to find and finish chances. Despite scoring at about the same rate as he had throughout his career, the Austrian finished with a career-low 2.38 shots per 90 minutes.
Scoring consistently on such a low volume of shots indicates Kara's quality as a finisher. With more consistent and better service in dangerous areas, he could become a high volume goal scorer.
This offseason, Orlando addressed its chance creation issues in a major way. New DP Martín Ojeda was among the most prolific creative players in Argentina this past season. The club also added a pair of attacking left backs, a creative winger from the draft and U22 winger Gastón González will be back from injury.
Kara could have a feast of good scoring chances if even just some of Orlando's new faces can deliver on their promise. With Ojeda, Facundo Torres and other talented creative players, Orlando has the raw creative talent to make life for Kara far easier this season. If he can continue to sniff out chances in the box and finish at a consistent rate, he could be one of the breakout players in MLS.