Orlando City

2019 Orlando City Season in Review: Brian Rowe



With the departure of both Joe Bendik and Earl Edwards Jr. after the 2018 season, Orlando City was left with a young and inexperienced group of goalkeepers. As such, Brian Rowe was brought in for a preseason trial, and was signed in late February. The former Toronto FC, LA Galaxy, and Vancouver Whitecaps keeper immediately took over the starting role for the Lions heading into the 2019 season. 

Rowe wasn’t the big signing that the supporters might have liked, but given the monetary situation Orlando City found itself in to start 2019, he was most likely the best bang for the buck. While Rowe did not become a fan favorite, he did prove himself a more than adequate veteran keeper, and a big improvement over the Lions’ keepers from 2018.

Statistical Breakdown

Rowe made 32 appearances during the 2019 MLS season. He started all 32 of those appearances and played a total of 2,880 minutes. He made 110 saves this season which was good enough for seventh best among keepers in MLS. The opposition took 160 shots, giving Rowe a save percentage of 68.8%, and a goals-against average of 1.53. However, his 49 goals allowed in 32 matches was far fewer than the 58 goals Joe Bendik allowed in only 25 matches in 2018. Orlando City posted a record of 9-14-9 with Rowe in goal. He allowed one penalty kick goal, no fouls committed or suffered, and posted seven clean sheets, tying the team’s single-season record.

Best Game

Statistically speaking, Rowe made more saves in the match against the Montreal Impact on March 16. He also allowed fewer goals in the Aug. 17 match against Minnesota United FC. However, his best game came against the Philadelphia Union on July. Philadelphia showered the Orlando keeper with 21 shots, and seven on goal. Rowe allowed two goals, but had five saves, and one punch.

It was his fifth save that earned him unanimous Man of the Match honors from both The Mane Land website and The Mane Land PawedCast. The left-handed save against Jack Elliot secured a point for the Lions on the road (3:25 mark in the video below).

2019 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff, gave Rowe a 6.5 composite grade for the 2019 season. During the in-season grades, he also had an average of 6.5, with a high grade of 8.5 and a low grade of 4. He earned Man of the Match honors three times from both The Mane Land website and The Mane Land PawedCast, as well as two times from our reader polls.

Rowe came into a club that had conceded an MLS record 74 goals the season before, and in conjunction with an upgraded back line, significantly improved the Lions’ defense. While he wasn’t in the upper echelon of keepers in the league, he was solid.

2020 Outlook

Rowe is an experienced veteran, and a relatively inexpensive one at that. I expect Rowe to return for the Lions next season, though whether it will be as the starting keeper or the backup will depend on how much money the club is looking to spend on the position. Though a top tier MLS keeper may be on the shopping list, it probably isn’t at the top of that list, and Rowe’s performance this season might be reason enough for Luis Muzzi to upgrade other positions first.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)


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