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Kaká versus the League: A Statistical Showdown

This week's continuation of our position by position comparisons takes a look at Orlando City's captain and the league average attacking midfielder.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, The Mane Land compared Orlando City's left side of the midfield to the rest of MLS, and the verdict was extremely lackluster. This week, we take a look at the attacking midfield in Adrian Heath's 4-2-3-1 formation and see how it stands up to the rest of the league.

There should be no contention here, as most informed fans know that, when healthy, the attacking midfield role will be filled by the current number 10: Kaká. Most teams, if not all teams in MLS, should be envious of Orlando City for having the ability to field a player with Kaká's on-field caliber and off-field leadership. From the moment he stepped off the plane at MCO, Kaká has been an exemplary captain for Orlando City, as he has consistently shown this community and his peers why he is held in such high regard and with such reverence.

However, there were times throughout OCSC's inaugural season where Kaká may not have performed to the statistical level some would expect from a former Ballon d'Or winner. In keeping with the previous statistical showdown pieces, we will be comparing the central attacking midfield role for Orlando to the MLS league average player at that position.

To define the league average player for a position that is not always well defined in certain formations, out-of-the-box thinking was used to help build the correct model for a statistical comparison. The league average player in this piece still needed to reach the requisite number of minutes played (700) for the MLS season, and also needed to hold the designation of either CAM or CM in FIFA 16. Considering the constant updates to the game, this could be a trusted source for defining player positions. The statistics were pulled from The Washington Post.

The metrics that were used for the comparison between Kaká and the average player at his comparable position are normalized per 90 minutes, except for the SOG% stat, which represents shots on goal percentage and the Goals Scored by Penalty Percentage (G(PS%)). Goals (G(90)); Assists (A(90)); Shots (SHTS(90)); Shots on Goal (SOG(90)); and Crosses (CR(90)) are all included in the comparison below, with Kaká represented by the beautiful purple and the league average player as orange.

So a few positives to take away here, as not only does Kaká look to create an ample amount of opportunity for players in the box by his above average crossing--completing almost .5 more crosses per game than the comparable average attacking midfielder--he also shows some other strengths. Some of the most important attributes for a central attacker would be the ability to create chances, which Kaká seems to do with his crossing, but also by putting the ball in the back of the net, which Kaká also does a bit better than the league average player at his position. However, looking a bit deeper and understanding that 44 percent of Kaká's MLS goals came from the penalty spot when, in comparison, the players at his position average 25 percent. We see that Kaká may not have been creating as much scoring as one would hope from the highest paid player in MLS.

It is true that in the end a goal is a goal and it really does not matter how it gets there, but some other interesting (and maybe telling) metrics are that Kaká lagged behind the league average player in shots per 90 minutes (-.20) and shots on goal per 90 (-.07) while also being behind in assists per 90 minutes. Of course some will argue that even if he did not put as many balls on frame, he still scored more goals per 90 minutes.

Again, an assertion can be made that Kaká was the perfect signing to build a franchise around for many different reasons. Yet, the numbers that should describe the highest paid player in the league in a central attacking role perhaps should not be comparable to the league average player at that position, the expected return should be much higher. So, entering his second season in MLS, having learned more about his opponents, the travel and having built a rapport with his teammates, maybe, just maybe Kaká and Orlando will flourish in 2016.