When Orlando City announced the signing of Austrian striker Ercan Kara, it seemed to be a dream move. After the departure of Daryl Dike, Kara looked like a perfect replacement for the young American's physical strength and goal scoring prowess. The former Rapid Vienna star even seemed like an upgrade in many ways with a more refined skillset and high-level European experience.
Through five months of his MLS tenure, it's hard to say whether the Kara experiment is succesful of not.
Statistically, Kara hasn't been bad for Orlando City. He's played 1,574 minutes in all competitions and scored eight goals and provided a pair of assists. That's good for 0.57 combined goals and assists per 90 minutes which is a decent. It's not as good as Dike however (0.75 last season) and he's gone on long stretches without a goal.
He went his first six games without scoring and scored just two goals in his first 12 games. Kara got hot at the end of May and early June, but is currently on a three game goal drought. The problem with the Austrian forward right now, though, isn't just the goal scoring.
Over the last few games he's been completely invisible up front for Orlando City. Kara has zero shots in the last three games. Not just a few, literally zero. That's zero shots in his last 210 minutes.
He has barely any touches on the ball and has been next to non-existent in possession or hold-up play. For a huge, technically gifted center forward, that just can't happen.
This is a problem from Kara himself who needs to be more dangerous on the field, but also a failing of Orlando as a team. I've written ad nauseam about Orlando's offensive failures and revolving door of a winger position, but it even goes beyond what I've covered. MLSSoccer.com analyst Matt Doyle broke down the issue in this week's column.
"What’s at issue – what is usually at issue in these situations – is they don’t really seem to have a coherent way to build chances in the first place. As per TruMedia via StatsPerform (who have Orlando on 26.33 xG through this weekend in case you were wondering), the Lions are near the bottom of the league in key passes following a successful 1v1 – really, really bizarre for a team that plays with true wingers – and have hit the second-fewest successful switches in the league. Which is also bizarre for a team that plays with true wingers. They also don’t hit many through-balls, which was one of their strengths the past two years, and they have the second-lowest successful cross percentage in MLS. Nor have they become the type of team to mitigate their on-ball creativity deficit by becoming a particularly good pressing side."- Matt Doyle, Armchair Analyst
There's no clear and coherent offensive plan, identity or philosophy. It basically just breaks down into one of Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra or Alexandre Pato trying to play hero ball. We saw this team play pretty soccer and score pretty goals in the early part of this season; there's an impressive attacking team in there somewhere.
Ercan Kara is the guy paid the big bucks to put the ball in the back of the net and take over games from the front. That isn't happening right now. Some of that comes from the team around him, but the Austrian big man needs to lift the team around him and make a bigger impact on this team. Goals need to come, and he needs to start scoring them.