Orlando City desperately needed a right attacking midfielder after Kevin Molino's season-ending knee injury left the team without a viable starter in the position. General Manager Paul McDonough addressed the position in the summer transfer window, signing Swiss midfielder Adrian Winter on July 29.
Winter's arrival brought a lot of excitement to Orlando City fans, who envisioned a viable right-side threat to play next to Kaká and opposite Carlos Rivas, while Brek Shea recovered from sports hernia surgery. He made his debut as a sub, playing 18 minutes against Philadelphia in a 0-0 draw back on Aug. 8.
He quickly showed the attributes that Lions fans wanted to see -- a nonstop motor, a desire to get forward, and he even threw in a shot in that first game, despite his short outing. Over the course of his nine games with the Lions this season, Winter showed he would work harder than Rocky Balboa in those musical training montages in the movies.
Winter started seven times in his nine appearances, playing 600 minutes for Orlando City from Aug. 8 to the season finale on Oct. 25. He scored two goals with one assist on 11 shots, getting five of those attempts on target. He committed 15 fouls and drew two yellow cards and a red. The latter came at Toronto on Aug. 22 in a 5-0 drubbing. The last came in the finale, so basically he was just like all of his teammates, because pretty much everyone got booked by Chris Penso that day.
He completed 73.2% of his passes according to Whoscored.com, and averaged nearly a key pass per appearance. Defensively, he averaged a tackle, an interception and a clearance per game. He was hindered during two of his appearances by having to play right back when teammates were sent off and filled in admirably.
Winters best game was easy to pick out. His two-goal performance against Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 13 was a Man of the Match performance. He scored his first MLS goal on a header off a Luke Boden free kick and added a second goal with his foot later in the game. As our Gavin Ewbank wrote after the game-: "two goals, a ton of hustle." The goals came on Winter's only two shots of the game, but how do you beat 100% shooting percentage?
Here's the first of those two goals:
It was a huge win for Orlando City, which snapped a long, six-game winless streak and began a five-game winning streak for the Lions, rekindling dormant playoff hopes. He got on the score sheet in the final game of that run as well, assisting on the winning goal against New York City FC on Oct. 16.
Hey, why not look at his other goal?
Orlando City coaches and fans certainly hope Kevin Molino can bounce back from his knee injury in 2016. If that happens, Winter would make a pretty solid backup on the right side. He has learned what to expect in Major League Soccer and should be better with that experience under his belt. A healthy Molino would also be able to slide into the middle when Kaká is unavailable, making Winter a starter on those occasions. His salary for 2015 was $198,333, so he's a tad on the pricey side, although he doesn't really make that much more than Lewis Neal.
2015 Final Rating
The Mane Land staff gave Winter a good composite grade of 7 out of 10. After the Swiss winger settled in and learned his teammates' names, he provided a missing element in the Orlando City attack down the right side. His work rate was second to none and that sometimes rubbed off on his teammates. On a selfish note, we'd like to see him return so we can keep making Game of Thrones jokes with his name.