Winter may not be coming; actually, it looks like it is leaving. So far this season, we have been used to having the Swiss man who never quits running, never quits fighting, and in 2016 has been involved in some very big moments. Moments such as the opener against Real Salt Lake comes to mind, where he played an integral role in earning Orlando a point at home in the dying minutes of the match. So, this Sunday in the Statistical Showdown, I would like to look at the players who may fill the void left by Adrian's departure.
A few players jump to mind when we talk about wide players who have the ability to stretch the defense, while providing service into the box for Cyle Larin and Julio "The Beast" Baptista. Namely, the players that come to mind are Carlos Rivas, and Brek Shea. Both Shea and Rivas would seem to be a straight like-for-like switch, where Rivas would be coming from the bench and Shea would be moving up on the left hand side, which would then bring in Luke Boden to play left back.
Looking at Winter so far in 2016, he has put up some solid numbers in 975 minutes of play. With three goals and one assist on the season, he may not have been the leading contributor, but Winter has been a spark plug for a majority of his time on the field. His passing of 75.2% was below the team average, while he averaged 0.4 crosses per game.
An argument can be made that the strengths that Winter brought were not necessarily seen through any form of statistics, as his unrelenting nature and energetic drive are not captured by those measures. So, looking at straight statistics will be a difficult proposition to measure who could fill the role left by Winter, however, let's look at some that describe Rivas and Shea.
In the first scenario, we could see Carlos Rivas slide into Adrian Winter's role, keeping Brek Shea at left back. So far in 2016, Carlos has been on the field for 311 minutes in MLS play. In that time he has scored a goal and notched an assist while completing 69% of his passes. The passing issue with Carlos has been something that we have seen on the field and is prevalent in his play, yet he does notch nearly a completed cross per game and also shoots nearly at the same rate that Adrian Winter does, but offers a better shots-per-goal ratio. We all have been witness to his left foot on set pieces and on crosses. So, what Rivas lacks in his passing compared to Winter, he makes up for in his ability to shoot as well as his speed and dangerous left foot.
Speaking of dangerous left feet, another player who may move into the out wide role that Adrian vacated is Shea. Brek used to be a left winger in his early MLS days, when he terrorized defenses with his size and speed combo playing for FC Dallas. So far this season, he has mainly played at left back, seeing 1,235 minutes and completing 73% of his passes. He has also scored a goal and notched an assist, like Carlos Rivas, however, considering most of his minutes have been played on the back line, a straight comparison per game would be difficult. Most understand that Shea may not be the same player that saw him score 11 goals from the left midfield spot in 2011 but, considering he is only 26 years old, there could still be a chance to recapture that form.
So, between Shea and Rivas there may be a solution for Orlando's loss. While we may all be upset, even though that may not be the word that describes every fan's emotions right now -- perhaps angry, confused, or perplexed would be better descriptions after Winter's release. Even though it was coined a "mutual agreement," this was very unexpected, yet hearing that it was due to family reasons, hopefully many will understand that this club has a family-first attitude even though it is reaching to be as competitive as possible, and that is something to which every team can aspire.