Adrian Winter is a relatively good MLS-level attacking midfielder. He's started in seven matches since joining the club back in August and saw his first playing time against Philadelphia. We here at The Mane Land covered his debut for the squad here. Even though it would take him a month to find the back of the net, he did so twice against Sporting Kansas City. Save for an assist on a Cyle Larin goal against NYCFC a month later, those would be Winter's only points of the season.
Winter was going to start the season as a substitute. Darwin Cerén and Pedro Ribeiro started along the wing and even after an injury to Kaká before the match, Servando Carrasco started in the middle. In stoppage time of the first half, Cerén picked up a red card on a reckless foul to Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales and suddenly Orlando City became a lot thinner in the midfield. Adrian Heath would allow an unbalanced back line to continue along the right side to make up for the loss of Cerén until the 61st minute, when Winter would check in for Luke Boden and have Brek Shea slide down to left back.
RSL's Joao Plata would score again five minutes after Winter would come on to double Real Salt Lake's lead to 2-0 and the impression on the field was Orlando City was going to let the season start by dropping three points at home to a beatable team. Lightning can't possibly strike twice, can it?
But, this being Central Florida, if there is anything we do have, it's inclement weather and down the street from the Citrus Bowl there weren't any fat ladies singing at the Doctor Phillips Center. Stoppage time heroics for Orlando City in the opening match at home. Where have we seen this before?
Canadian Messi would open up Orlando City's 2016 scoring book after Hadji Barry worked a nice touch around an RSL defender to Shea, whose cross met Larin who sent the ball home with his first touch, and it seemed like a lovely gesture to save face on an otherwise miserable game. Real Salt Lake 2-1 Orlando City.
But then, something else happened.
Joe Bendik put the ball in play and fed Carrasco at the top of Orlando City's box and -- oh this is fun -- Servando sent a long ball down to Larin. Oh, well, Cyle out ran the ball down and it dropped behind him and bobbled off his thigh ... right at Adrian Winter's feet! Winter then flicked it in for the finish. Just like that, he stole two points away from Utah royalty and gave one back to the people of Orlando.
Personally, Adrian Winter is one of my favorite players to watch. This chalkboard mock up of yesterday's match shows just how involved he gets on the right side.
Winter plays like a man with his hair on fire and isn't afraid to be mobile around the pitch, pursuing loose balls. While this may lead to him being out of position if he gets dispossessed, it also leads to opportunities being generated and, in this case, points being salvaged in games where a defeat was all but assured.