Orlando City acquired versatile center back on loan from Middlesbrough before the season with an option to extend. His first involvement with the team was a preseason friendly against Swedish club BK Häcken on Feb. 13, in which he both gave up a penalty and added a goal from a header off a corner.
Hines was an intriguing player from the outset -- an experienced center back with good size (6-foot-2, 172 pounds) that could play right back in an emergency. He had a good resume, with more than 80 games played for various levels of English soccer and 17 caps for England's international youth teams at the U-16, U-17 and U-19 levels.
He won the starting job alongside Aurelien Collin after a brief competition with Sean St. Ledger and became a mainstay on Orlando City's back line for the majority of the season. His form dipped at times, but his play down the stretch was solid enough to keep the higher priced David Mateos on the bench during a key playoff run.
Let's take a look at his first MLS season...
The 27-year-old made 23 MLS appearances for the Lions in 2015, starting 21 of those games and playing 1,925 minutes. Hines was also utilized in U.S. Open Cup play. He scored a goal -- a crucial game winner against Montreal Impact in the 80th minute that kept Orlando City's postseason hopes afloat -- but did not register an assist.
He took 14 shots this season, with four of them on goal. Most of his shots were headers off corners and set pieces. Hines passed at an 82.9% clip, which was slightly better than Collin (82.3) but not as good as either Mateos (83.8) or St. Ledger (84.8).
A gentlemanly player, Hines committed only 27 fouls all season and was booked three times. He averaged 2.7 aerials won, 1.9 tackles, 3.3 interceptions and 4.7 clearances per game. By comparison, his tackles per game were on par with Collin and Mateos, who averaged two apiece. His interceptions were on par with Collin's 3.5 average (and ahead of Mateos at 2.3), while he slightly lagged behind the others in clearances (Mateos was highest at 6.3, with Collin at 5.8).
Hines had some strong games in 2015, including a three-shot effort at Real Salt Lake on July 4, in which he was unlucky not to have scored on a header. But we'll go with his substitute appearance on Oct. 3 against Montreal Impact.
Obviously Hines was our Man of the Match in the 2-1 win over Montreal, partly for his winning goal, but he contributed much more than that after replacing the injured Tommy Redding in the 11th minute. As we wrote in our player grades that night:
Hines finished with four interceptions, two tackles, a clearance and a blocked shot, to go along with his 80th-minute winning goal. Completed nearly 85% of his passes and was calm on the ball and with the ball pinging around in the box.
You probably won't tire of watching this, which includes one of the great goal celebrations of the season:
Hines' 2015 salary of $109,826.00 isn't necessarily cheap, but it's reasonable for a starting MLS center back. He's more cost-effective than Mateos or Collin, particularly if he plays regular minutes. I believe the Lions liked what they got out of Hines in 2015 and would like to have him back next season. I think the team would also, however, like to upgrade at the position and keep Hines on as a backup or as part of a rotation of equally capable center backs. They'd like to get a couple of years out of some of their veterans while guys like Conor Donovan and Tommy Redding develop to one day take their place. Look for No. 3 to return next season.
2015 Final Rating
The Mane Land staff gives Hines a composite rating of 7 out of 10. There were stretches where the back line didn't play well, but that may come down more to chemistry and lack of communication with the defensive midfield, more than anyone's individual play. Hines was a fairly solid option at center back throughout the 2015 campaign and is potentially a bargain at his salary if he can continue to work hard enough to maintain a starting role. He's good in the air, especially on the defensive end, rarely loses his man, and is athletic enough to recover on a sudden change of possession. Hines had a nice season for the Lions and with a year in MLS under his belt, could become an even more valuable asset for Orlando.