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Sunday Statistical Showdown: The Return of Kaká

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Orlando City is expecting the return of its captain tonight and to mark the occasion, the Sunday Statistical Showdown takes a look at what Kaká can bring to the table for the Lions' revamped lineup.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Last week in the Sunday Statistical Showdown we looked at the upcoming Portland match and the high level statistics from both teams so far this season. This week we want to talk a bit more about what type of player will be coming back into the fold for Orlando.

The return of the venerable Kaká is inching ever closer, as the highest paid player in MLS looks ready to start today against Portland. After sitting out the first three matches and watching Orlando come away with five points, if not luckily, Kaká should be chomping at the bit to make a mark on the field.

Looking at Kaká last year there were a few telling statistics. Borrowing some great work from American Soccer Analysis we can see that Kaká had a strong touch ratio last year for Orlando City, actually leading the team with 9.6%. Below you can also see some other stats that described Kaká last year:

Touch %: percentage of total team touches while on the field, Duels Won: failed tackle against, successful dribble, aerial 50/50 won, xAssists: expected assists per 90, xGoals: expected goals per 90.

Now none of these numbers really stand out, nor do they look like a player who is the highest paid in the league but Kaká nonetheless is the fulcrum of the OCSC attack and also the most talented player on the pitch at just about any moment. So looking forward to the return of Kaká, we try to see which players may be effected.

When comparing the touch ratio of Kaka in 2015 to the current team we can see who has stepped up to control the ball and flow of play on the field so far this year and also talk to who may see less possession this Sunday. A caveat to the graph below is that not all players are shown as Tommy Redding's data was not available.

So far this year there are a few players who have helped fill the possession void left by Kaká and currently have a higher touch ratio in 2016 than Kaka had in 2015. First, we can discount both Luke Boden and Servando Carrasco as most pundits do not see either of those players starting today. Only two other players have higher touch ratios than Kaká--Cristian Higuita and Rafael Ramos--while Kevin Molino just barely trails behind (-.7%). Clearly we would expect Kaká's introduction to the starting XI to have a positive impact on the team as a whole. While Higuita and Ramos--and Molino--could see their touch ratios decrease, having Kaká on the field will help to relieve pressure and allow those players to play more freely. Given that Servando Carrasco (10.58%) will not be starting, Kaká's 9.60% touch ratio will almost completely fill in that gap and that should keep the Lions relatively comfortable.

Considering the starting lineup for Orlando resembles The Mane Land projection then there can be a positive here as Orlando will have an overall availability of touch percentage that would allow Kaká to enter the lineup without disrupting the flow of play and the current possession roles as well as touch ratios. Now does this also contend that the introduction of albeit a highly skilled player into the team could not cause issues and a dip in overall team form? No this does not, but it does point to that there may be a place for him in the team considering the current touch ratios for the players on the field and for the one whom Kaká would be replacing.

Let's all hope that a few hours from now we can see Kaká step on the pitch, stay healthy and have the type of impact we are all hoping to see. Go City!