Joe Bendik had so many great saves in 2016, that he won the MLS Save of the Week 11 times! Even MLS joked they should rename the award after Orlando City’s keeper. Despite the many, many great saves he had, let’s take a look back at the top five.
Week 11: Orlando City at Sporting Kansas City
A 2-1 loss to Sporting KC could have been worse if not for Joe Bendik. Darwin Ceren was down on the right side of the box, and wasn’t getting up, even as Orlando City was trying unsuccessfully to get the ball cleared. Dom Dwyer made a run in from the right, staying on side because of the downed Orlando midfielder. His left footer was saved by Bendik as he scrambled out, sprawling to his right, to just knock it away. He then hopped back up in time to make another diving save on Graham Zusi’s right footed attempt from the top of the box. This save was the one that earned Bendik MLS’s Save of the Year Award.
Week 17: Orlando City at FC Dallas
When a team loses 4-0, it can be hard to find a positive. This time that positive was Bendik’s SotW on Walker Zimmerman. Already down 2-0, Mauro Diaz sent in a corner kick right to Zimmerman for an easy header — or so it would have been any other day. Joe got big and made a reaction save that stunned Zimmerman.
Week 21: Orlando City vs. New England Revolution
With the home team up 3-1 approaching stoppage, the New England Revolution were looking to claw back into the game late. Pushing the ball forward, Kei Kamara put the ball through to Charlie Davies. Davies hit the ball perfectly, lobbing it over the outstretched hand of Joe Bendik. Actually, that’s not what happened. Bendik got tall enough to get a hand on that nearly perfectly placed ball to send it over the crossbar and garner his third SotW in a row.
Week 25: Orlando City vs. Toronto FC
It was a close game. Orlando and Toronto were tied 1-1, and Jozy Altidore received a perfect cross to put in a header to potentially give Toronto the lead. Unfortunately for Jozy, Joe was perfectly positioned and, as he was falling to his right, he quickly reacted and got a hand on the close range header. Toronto would go on to win the game, but not at that moment. Not because of that header.
Week 27: Orlando City at Montreal Impact
This was the save that won The Mane Land’s Save of the Year — a very prestigious distinction, as I’m sure you’ll agree. This save was Bendik on Didier Drogba during Orlando City’s game against the Montreal Impact in Canada. Frankly, it was as if Joe was reading Drobga’s mind, but I wouldn’t want to think I could put it any better than our own Austin David did from his September monthly team awards, so let’s hear it from the man himself:
The play started when the Impact's Donny Toia put a ball from midfield over the top of the Orlando back line. Hassoun Camara then one-timed the ball across the face of goal towards Drogba on the far post. Bendik was able to sprint over from one side of goal to the other and make a diving stop on Drogba's effort as he tried to slot the ball away. Another Save of the Week for Joe Bendik to add to his highlight reel.
It was quite the year for Joey B, and let’s face it, things would’ve been worse without him. Let’s hope he doesn’t need so many heroic stops in the coming season. Let us know which one was your favorite in the comments below. Vamos Orlando, and thanks to Joe Bendik.