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2018 Orlando City Season in Review: Amro Tarek

It was a roller coaster of a year for the center back.

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City brought in Amro Tarek on a season-long loan from Egyptian Premier League side Wadi Degla to shore up the team’s center back depth. Though Amro had yet to earn a starting job at his previous clubs, he surprised many with his quality in purple and quickly made a name for himself.

The American-born, Egyptian-raised center back enjoyed a fantastic run of form to begin the season. Tarek was asked to step in while Jonathan Spector and Lamine Sané were at times unavailable and locked down a starting role for himself. His positive play caught the eye of Egypt’s manager at the time — Héctor Cúper — who handed Amro his first national team call up in several years ahead of the World Cup.

But Tarek didn’t make the final Pharaohs roster for Russia and wasn’t quite the same upon his return to Orlando. The team as a whole struggled but the back line especially so en route to allowing a league-worst number of goals over the course of the season. The summer window saw new boss James O’Connor bring in two more central defenders in Carlos Ascues and Shane O’Neill and Tarek’s place in the side was in question. However, he bounced back after injuries forced him back into the lineup and he ended the season on a solid run of form.

Statistical Breakdown

Amro appeared in 20 matches during the season, 19 of which were starts. Tarek was unfortunately last among center backs when it came to passing efficiency, completing just 78.2% of his attempts. Amro had a habit of trying to play long balls over the top, though, which hurt his numbers there. He did manage to create a scoring opportunity once every 10 matches, but that was equivalent to center backs like Sané and O’Neill and behind Spector.

Defensively, the numbers were very similar to his fellow central defenders according to WhoScored. Tarek averaged 1.6 tackles per game, 2.5 interceptions per game (good enough for third on the team), and 4.2 clearances per game (second only behind Sané). Amro also tied Carlos Ascues for the team lead for blocked shots with both stopping one opposition attempt every match on average.

Tarek was credited with a goal in Orlando’s wild 3-3 draw with the New England Revolution, though the ball might not have found the back of the net without some help from Revs keeper Matt Turner.

He registered no assists and attempted six shots, four on goal. He committed 11 fouls, drawing nine, and saw three yellow cards but no reds.

Best Game

While Amro had several stellar performances to start the year, his matches were often a mixed bag. He would prevent a goal or two with some display of athleticism or great defending but also put a few chances on a platter for the opposing attack. His most complete performance came in Orlando’s 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union back in April.

While Tarek didn’t set any season highs for his defensive statistics, he was clutch when it mattered, racking up three interceptions, five clearances, and a block. Most importantly, the Egyptian combined with Sané to help record one of Orlando City’s two clean sheets against a threatening Union attack.

Amro also nearly scored the first goal of the match after some fantastic play from Orlando, but ultimately his attempt was cleared off the line by Jack Elliott.

2018 Final Grade

While Tarek’s early performances jump-started his international career with Egypt, it was overall a rocky year in Orlando. The Mane Land staff gave Amro a composite grade of 5.5 for his 2018 performance. The 26-year-old was incredibly streaky and could save the day or give the match away depending on the day. His match grades throughout the year in our individual assessments ranged anywhere from 3.5 to 7.5.

Amro at his best could go toe-to-toe with most forwards in MLS and showed his potential as a player, but there were too many times when careless giveaways or poor positioning allowed the opposition to take advantage.

2019 Outlook

Amro’s loan from Wadi Degla is set to conclude at the end of this season. Orlando City has an option to buy Tarek permanently from the Egyptian club but it remains to be seen whether the OCSC brass will bring the Egyptian international back after James O’Connor seemed to favor O’Neill over Amro as the season wound down. Tarek made eight appearances under the Irishman, though he was away with Egypt and hampered with an injury during that stretch.

Purchasing Amro would likely come with a raise on his reported $88,333.37 total compensation, especially with Javier Aguirre consistently calling him up for Egypt. Combined with the transfer fee to purchase him from Wadi Degla, financials could play a big role in whether or not the big center back is in purple in 2019.

Should Tarek return, he has shown the potential to step in and be a capable starter in MLS with all of the physical tools to shut down attackers. The question remains whether he can be consistent enough to be relied on every week.

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