The goalkeeper position is something I have studied and loved ever since I started to play. The position always lends itself to unique people, from Jorge Campos to Manuel Neuer, the character list goes on and on.
They are polarizing people -- you either love them or hate them. They get to wear the flashy jersey and use their hands like no other player on the team, but they have to put their body in harm's way to prevent the other team from scoring. Goalkeepers are loud and sometimes cocky as they communicate to their team. They have all the pressure on them as the first person to blame when a goal is scored, and there's always a backup waiting in the wings to steal the job.
Joe Bendik is a different breed of goalkeeper. He is someone that you don't want to mess with in the penalty area.
A Goalkeeper Must be Fearless
In the 68th minute of the New York Red Bulls match last week, Orlando was already down 2-0 and it clearly wasn't going to be their day. With the game threatening to get away, Bendik made a huge save on Gonzalo Verón.
Bendik fearlessly comes out and puts his body on the line in a time in the match where the team needed a boost. He is cool and collected after the save, even as he has blood running down his face. Saves like that make players on the field want to step up and make supporters want to chant his name. The big save wasn't able to turn the tide in that match, but it did leave him getting stitches after the game. There is no argument on how much he wants to win matches for the club.
Goalkeepers are Different
We have all seen this video of Bendik picking up Felipe.
This was the first video I saw when I was researching Bendik coming to the Orlando City. My immediate thought was that this guy is cold-blooded, and there was no doubt that he would be revered by the supporters.
Bendik is one of those goalkeepers that you don't want to mess with in his box. The box is his, and he owns it; if you mess with it, he is going to mess with you. Teams want a goalkeeper who is a little "off," and is willing to protect his box. Something I was concerned about was Bendik's ability to handle his area, but he has proven time after time that if there is a one-on-one opportunity, he is going to be in the right place to make the save.
Goalkeepers, Not Goals, Change Matches
Orlando has 10 draws, but they are still only one point away from a playoff spot.
Goalkeepers can steal matches and if Bendik continues to stay hot, why can't this team make a run? The back line is shaky, but Bendik has been there time after time to make the big saves. A goalkeeper will be called upon to make a big save that could turn a match, and Bendik has proven he is able to change a match, game in and game out. This team is still in the playoff hunt and, for me, as long as Bendik stays locked in, this team can make a run.
He needs to continue to be the foundation for the Lions.