ORLANDO, Florida – Adrian Heath admits Orlando City SC has been plunged into a strange situation with the sudden departure, for family reasons, of Adrian Winter, and the team is urgently working the transfer system to bring in “two to three new players.”
The shock waves of the popular Winter’s return to Switzerland were still noticeable at training on Saturday ahead of what would be a 4-0 loss to FC Dallas on July 4. Orlando City officially announced on Tuesday that Winter had been released from his contract.
“We want to thank Adrian for his contributions to the club,'' Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said. "The decision to release him is a very difficult one but there is very little you can do when a player needs to be closer to his family and that family is in Switzerland. Adrian is a very popular character within the club and will be sorely missed. We would like to wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
On Saturday, Heath said it has been a struggle to come to terms with events.
“We have known about Adrian’s situation for probably a week to 10 days,” Heath explained. “We have enough people to cope at this time, but it does leave us a bit bare if we have any further injuries or suspensions, so we are actively looking to bring in two or three new players during the [transfer] window.
“Obviously it is not ideal because Adrian’s been playing well and was an important member of the group, on and off the field. But sometimes these things happen; sometimes your personal situation overtakes football, and we respect that.”
Winter had started the club's previous five games, recording a goal and two assists, and his energy had been a notable factor in the home wins over Montreal and Toronto. He scored five goals and added three assists in 22 appearances after joining in July 2015. Now, Heath has to reshuffle his midfield pack to find a new man to dovetail with Kaká and Kevin Molino.
“It’s very unusual and I can’t remember many times when a player and a club have both been upset with somebody leaving because, normally, it is one way or the other,” Heath said. “A player might want to leave if he’s not in the team or he can’t settle in a new country, or the club moves him on because they thinks he’s not right for the system, but that was not the case here.
“He was a very emotional kid yesterday, very disappointed. He was probably only a couple of weeks away from getting his green card, which is one of the reasons people want to come to America: to have a life here. So it was a difficult decision for us all. Now we have to make sure that when the window opens on Monday, we have players stepping up and ready to come in.”
“We have [Carlos Rivas] and we have [Brek Shea], but we’re in danger of being a bit short, with four players for three positions,” Heath added. “We’re hoping to get players in sooner rather than later. Players are available now in Europe and we scouted during Copa America, so we are making inroads. There’s no specific place we are looking, it’s just a case of can we get the right players in.
“When you enter the transfer market you’re never 100 percent certain you are going to get it right. There are so many variables when you are bringing a player in. So, when you get one like Winter who fits in straight away and is so popular with the players, supporters and staff, it’s a tough one to swallow.”
Shea was also upset to see Winter leave, but insists he is happy to return to a more forward role.
“It’s a sad time, as Adrian was a good teammate and a good friend, a guy who was always happy in everything he did," he said. "He was a great person to have around the locker room, so it is obviously a disappointment. It also means we have to fill that hole.
“It’s hard, and we need people to step up but I think we have players that can do that. I will do anything the gaffer needs me to do. If that’s moving forward, I’ll be excited. Obviously I like attacking and trying to create things.”