Orlando City

Orlando City Transfers Forward Ercan Kara to Turkish Side Samsunpor

Orlando City has sent striker and Designated Player Ercan Kara to Samsunpor of the Turkish Super Lig for an undisclosed fee.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City announced this morning that forward Ercan Kara has been transferred to Samsunspor of the Turkish Super Lig for an undisclosed fee. The Turkish-Austrian striker spent two seasons with the Lions as a Designated Player. This is the second time the Lions have sent a player to the Turkish first division after Cyle Larin left for Besiktas in 2018.

“First, we would like to thank Ercan for his dedication and professionalism throughout his time in Orlando,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “Over the last two years, he played key roles in some of the biggest moments in our club’s history, including the Concacaf Champions League and the club’s Open Cup championship run. We wish him nothing but the best in this next chapter of his career.”

The 27-year-old joined Orlando City from Austrian Bundesliga side Rapid Vienna on Jan. 27, 2022. He made 53 appearances for the club with 37 starts and 3,115 minutes in all competitions, scoring 18 goals and recording five assists.This season, he’s made 19 appearances with 11 starts, playing 913 minutes, and scoring six goals with two assists.

The striker’s 11 MLS goals last season led the team and his 12 goals in all competitions was one behind Facundo Torres. This year, his five league goals are tied with Martin Ojeda for third, trailing Torres (10 goals) and McGuire (eight goals). His six goals in all competitions are also third behind Torres and McGuire, who both have 10 this year.

Kara’s biggest contributions came in cup competitions. In the club’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup-winning run last year, he scored the opener in a 2-1 round of 32 win over the Philadelphia Union. He followed that by converting in penalties the following two games against Inter Miami and Nashville SC. This year, he pulled the Lions back even with Tigres UANL in the Concacaf Champions League second leg with a 90th-minute goal.

Kara was Orlando City’s highest-paid player, occupied one of its Designated Player spots,  and started the year as the starting striker, but lost his starting spot to rookie Duncan McGuire. He hadn’t started since June 17. The Mane Land learned that Kara picked up a non-COVID-related illness prior to the away match at the Chicago Fire on Aug. 20. The illness had held Kara out of training and he wasn’t with the team in its first three MLS games since the Leagues Cup ended. In addition to recovering from his illness, he and his wife, Eda, are expecting the birth of a child very soon.

While fans speculated a transfer was imminent, Kara missed two matches before Samsunspor’s “best and final offer” — which, per Tom Bogert, was reportedly rejected prior to the Turkish side’s offer that Orlando ultimately accepted — was submitted.

What It Means for Orlando

In the near term, this deal leaves Orlando City without its first striker off the bench. McGuire took the starting spot away from the Austrian this season, but Kara had usually replaced the rookie when he came off around the hour mark. The club signed Ramiro Enrique prior to the season and he started the year as the second-choice forward, but has recently been put in the attacking midfield by Oscar Pareja.

Kara’s role as first substitute forward will be taken over by Enrique or Jack Lynn. Enrique is a different type of player, so you might see the second-year forward more. Drafted in the first round last year, Lynn scored 15 goals in 18 appearance for OCB last year and has 15 goals in 23 games for the MLS NEXT Pro team this season. But he’s only seen 18 minutes in six games for the first team over the past two years and has yet to score his first MLS goal.

Kara’s Orlando City career will be seen as a disappointment by some fans due to him occupying a Designated Player slot and a perceived lack of production at that level. Despite being 6-foot-4, he was unable to win balls in the air and found hold-up play difficult. The fact that the club’s draft pick this season was better at both of those attributes than the team’s highest-paid player made McGuire a better fit for the team’s playing style. Once that became obvious, Kara’s time with the club was on borrowed time. However, his ability to finish when given service was never in question, and some of the team’s shortcomings in finding the striker have shown up in recent games, with McGuire struggling to get touches on the ball and managing just one shot attempt per match over the last three games since MLS play resumed.

This move puts Orlando City in a position where a McGuire injury or suspension could be a costly one in a tight postseason race.

The move will leave the Lions short on the attacking end for the remainder of the 2023 season. It opens a Designed Player spot, but the transfer window is closed until the off-season, so that spot will remain vacant for the time being. It remains to be seen how the Lions will use that slot — if they do — in the off-season transfer window.


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