The history behind most mid-season signings for MLS clubs has not been very encouraging. Most of them struggle to adjust to the rigors of traveling and the different style of play the league has to offer. As a result, their first half-season is usually a dud (excluding Didier Drogba).
Both David Mateos and Adrian Winter came to Orlando City in the dog days of the season and struggled to click fully with their teammates throughout the last half of the year. There were flashes of their capability, such as Winter's brace and Mateos' defense in Chicago, but there was still the need to become more acclimated with the team. Now that both players have been with the team almost seven months, that acclimation has reached its peak.
"When I came last year to Orlando in the summer, I didn't have a break, just two weeks," Mateos said this past Wednesday after training. "So, when I come here the weather was so hard for me. Now I'm starting here with the team."
Mateos will be in contention for one of the starting center-back spots along with Seb Hines. Both defenders had injury issues at various times last year, so with Mateos now having a full preseason in Orlando to get used to the weather conditions, it could benefit him in terms of staying healthy and winning out that starting spot.
Speaking of injuries, as of right now last year's starting right winger Kevin Molino is still not fully cleared to participate in games. If he is not able to compete during the preseason, Adrian Winter will most likely start the season in that position.
"I can do the whole preseason with the team, it helps me for my fitness," Winter also said after training, "I know the team better, I know how they run and how they play. It's much better for me."
Having that knowledge in the attacking midfield will allow some more creative scoring opportunities when it comes to the final third of the pitch. We saw last year the flashes of brilliance between Kaká and Molino. Now with a full preseason under his belt, we could see some similar plays from Winter.
The point of all this, is now that both players are accustomed to the team, it can only benefit them going into the new season. If you're heading down to today's open practice, keep an eye out on these story lines!