Matt Doyle, the Armchair Analyst of MLSSoccer.com, released his projected depth charts for all 29 Major League Soccer teams as he does before every season. His projected Orlando City lineup is mostly expected with one major call: rookie Duncan McGuire over Designated Player Ercan Kara.
Doyle even went as far as to put U22 signing Ramiro Enrique over the Austrian center forward as well.
"Though with McGuire being the absolute freaking truth all preseason, and two other high-upside young guys behind him on the depth chart, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if DP center forward Ercan Kara’s days were numbered," Doyle said in his column.
While this seems a bit extreme for right now, it does beg the question; what does the No. 9 position look like for Orlando City?
Kara didn't play for the Lions in their final dress rehearsal last Saturday against the New England Revolution. McGuire got the start and Enrique came in for relief. Neither scored or were overwhelmingly impressive, but they both looked like good young forwards.
Both McGuire and Enrique have clear pedigree and potential. McGuire is the reigning MAC Hermann trophy winner, given to the best player in college soccer. Many other Hermann trophy winners have become good or even great MLS players, including Robbie Robinson, Jordan Morris and Darlington Nagbe.
McGuire's upside as a mobile, in-the-box goalscorer is really high. Enrique also has tons of potential. He broke onto the scene with Banfield in Argentina and poses the technical and physical tools to become a dynamic offensive weapon.
Despite the talent and clear upside, though, Kara is still here. And Kara is still quite good.
A lot of national pundits are completely out on Kara, and it's understandable. The Austrian scored just 12 goals in 34 appearances last season. While that's servicable production, it's far from the elite return expected from top DP forwards.
However, I've argued time and time again that Kara is just scratching the surface of what he can become in Orlando. Last season's squad had deficiencies across the attack, and Kara was starved for chances.
The Lions were near the bottom in every significant creative stat, and the on-field product reflected that. Kara has his clear limitations. He's super mobile and he can't do much other than get into the box. But with a better attacking framework and creators around him, he can be a high-level finisher inside.
All three of McGuire, Enrique and Kara (plus second-year striker Jack Lynn) will see the field at various times throughout the year. Orlando is playing in four competitions this year, plus a potential playoff run. Depth will be crucial all season.
For now, I still think Kara is the clear starter and could be poised for a big leap in year two. But the young talent is present and will be nipping at his heels all year to get on the field and make an impact.