Everyone knows who Orlando City’s best player is. It’s Kaka. Everything they do goes through him. When he clicks, they win. When he doesn’t, they don’t. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Against Philadelphia, the curse part of the scenario came to the forefront. Playing as a striker, Kaka had a pretty poor day, failing to put a single one of his four shots on target. The Union just didn’t allow him what he needed.
But how much of that comes down to the Union stepping up and how much of that comes down to Orlando City shoehorning Kaka into the striker role, the position he normally supplies?
Methinks it comes down to Orlando thinking way too hard about this. Just like everyone else out there, the Lions know who their best guy is, so they figured with Cyle Larin out due to an injury, they’d just push their most important man into the vacated role and voila, problem solved.
It’s not always that easy. And it wasn’t this time around. Kaka is not a striker. But that doesn’t mean that he was a fish out of water at the No. 9 role. He still tried to do what he always does – create chances and pester the goal. He created just one less chance than in the demonstrative win against Portland. He even fired one more shot.
It’s not like Kaka’s inability to play striker is what held Orlando City back. Because he did adjust. They just didn’t have a striker. They didn’t have anyone leading the line, finishing off the chances created by the crafty Orlando attack. That is a big vacancy.
Without Cyle Larin, Orlando City had limited options – but they had options. Mainly they had Julio Baptista. Baptista had just joined Orlando City and has a proven track record wherever he has played as being a solid option up front. With Kaka, Kevin Molino and Adrian Winter, all they needed to do was put someone up front that has experience playing there – someone that can field those creative moves and put the finishing touches on.
Kaka might very well possess the capabilities of doing just that, but by pushing him into that role, Orlando removed him from the link-up role that he turned into brilliance against Portland.
It’s a minor fault. It’s not like Adrian Heath made some appalling error that is going to cost Orlando their season. But it is pretty clear that they thought about this way too hard. Orlando may be perceived as ‘overachieving,’ but they have a potent attack that centers on Kaka being in the center. That is the formula that works, not just pushing Kaka wherever there is a void that needs filling.