Orlando City had league worst in goals allowed in 2016, but without goalkeeper Joe Bendik the total would have been even worse. After 11 MLS Save of the Week awards and the 2016 Save of the Year in 2016, Bendik has not missed a step in 2017.
Yet, Bendik still is not in the U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Bruce Arena’s plans, and many Orlando City fans are not sure why that is.
The first thing to look at why Bendik is not called up, is the position that the national team currently is in. They face must-wins games in order to qualify for the World Cup. Arena will not be experimenting and will only be going with players that are proven and that he trusts. Because of that, Tim Howard will be starting for the U.S. in The Hex, with Nick Rimando as the backup and David Bingham providing depth.
So, the next competition to look at is the Gold Cup this summer. Bendik has shown that he has the quality to get a look with the national team, but will he be called up? Most likely not, however, if he continues his strong play, Arena will have to take a long look at him.
Goalkeeper has been the deepest position for the Americans for years and that is biggest roadblock for Orlando City’s keeper. Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid, Luis Robles, and David Bingham are all ahead of him as of now. But Howard and Rimando are aging, Guzan is currently not playing — although that will change when he moves to Atlanta — and Bendik has played better in 2017 (so far) than Hamid.
Given the current state, the Gold Cup is the perfect opportunity for Arena to look into Bendik. Should he be involved? Absolutely. Will he? That remains to be seen, but if Bendik continues his terrific performances and acrobatic saves, the rest should fall into place.