After a right knee injury effectively ended Tally Hall’s career near the end of the 2015 MLS season, Orlando City brought in former Toronto FC and Portland Timbers goalkeeper Joe Bendik. The newly acquired goalkeeper quickly became a fan favorite, being one of the bright spots on an otherwise poorly performing team. In his first two seasons in Orlando, Bendik conceded 1.67 goals per game and recorded 12 clean sheets. During the 2017 season, he broke the club’s all-time saves record of 231, previously held by Miguel Gallardo.
Heading into the 2018 season, Bendik was expected to be one of the few solid returners in a mostly new lineup. He started the first 18 games of the season but was supplanted by backup Earl Edwards, Jr. in mid-July due to poor play. Bendik would take over the number one spot again for six games before Adam Grinwis, who had joined the club from Saint Louis FC at the beginning of the season, took over as the starter for the remainder of the season.
During his first two seasons in Orlando, Bendik started 37 of 38 MLS games and was one of the most solid performers for the team. Conceding 58 goals in 25 games this season, he gave up a 2.35 goals per game, the most of his career. After completing five and seven clean sheets in the previous two years, he only managed one clean sheet during the 2018 season. Collecting 86 saves, he ended the season with a 6-17-2 record and was replaced twice during the season as the team’s starting goalkeeper.
Bendik’s best game came on May 6 at home against Real Salt Lake. While Bendik did have a clean sheet earlier in the season, his lone of the year, he made eight saves against this western opponent in the final win of the team’s six-game win streak. That was the second most saves he had this season, only behind a nine-save performance against Los Angeles FC, but he gave up four goals in that 4-1 loss.
One of Bendik’s better efforts in the game was this 1-v-1 stop against Corey Baird:
2018 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Bendik a composite score of 4.5 for the 2018 season — a big drop from the 7.5 score we gave him last year. In his first nine games, Bendik gave up fewer than two goals on four occasions and recorded a clean sheet. Following the team’s six-game win streak, he would only concede fewer than two goals in one more appearance. His shot stopping, which had been a strength in previous years, was much less so in the latter part of the season and he struggled in distribution, turned the ball over, and didn’t read the game as well as he has in the past. Overall, it was clearly the worst season of his MLS career thus far.
Many expect that we’ve seen the last of Joe Bendik as a Lion. Even though he’s in his prime at 29 years old, which lasts longer for goalkeepers, Orlando City has gotten worse and worse each season since joining MLS, and especially at defense. While it’s possible he could be back, the front office may look for a younger option, especially since he was outplayed by Adam Grinwis in the second half of the season.