Following the blockbuster trade that sent Tommy Redding and Carlos Rivas to New York and Sacha Kljestan to Orlando, the Lions made an under-the-radar deal that could have an impact on the future of the club. That signing was bringing in 25-year-old goalkeeper Adam Grinwis from Saint Louis FC. While this signing could just be someone to battle for a roster spot with the MLS side, it could also be meaningful for a current Lion.
After starting for UCLA, Earl Edwards Jr. was selected by Orlando City with the first pick in the third round (43rd overall) of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. An impressive goalkeeper, Edwards was a potential future starter for the team. He spent the 2015 season with the MLS side backing up Donovan Ricketts, and then Tally Hall, followed by a 2016 season backing up newly signed Joe Bendik. Looking to get the young goalkeeper more minutes, the club signed Josh Saunders for the 2017 season and sent Edwards to Orlando City B.
Last season was a banner year for the Lions when it came to goalkeepers, with two starring for their two top teams. Edwards was spectacular with OCB and Bendik had another terrific year, in the first season of his three-year contract extension for the 28-year-old. However, while Orlando City would certainly love for Edwards to continue as a Lion, Bendik appears to be the long-term solution for the club, leaving Edwards in a difficult situation.
Edwards is still young, especially for a goalkeeper, at just 25 years old, but proved last season that he can compete at a higher level than the USL. He doesn’t look likely to get that chance with Orlando City, as Bendik doesn’t appear to be giving up that spot anytime soon. Making matters worse for Edwards is that, while injuries have hindered his development, the club still has talented 20-year-old Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar. Considering those facts, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Edwards leave the club for greater opportunities.
If Edwards does decide to move on, Grinwis may be a good solution to back up Bendik, at least in the short term. In all likelihood, the only time the young goalkeeper will see the field is during U.S. Open Cup games and only early round games at that. Given Edwards’ success last season and obvious ability, that’s likely not a situation he would want to be in. But the ability to be on an MLS team and back up an accomplished goalkeeper is a greater opportunity than being in St. Louis.
For the 2018 season, it appears that Edwards and Grinwis will battle to be the backup to Bendik with the other moving to OCB, should it see play this coming season. That may be a solution for Edwards this year but could soon result in his departure to an MLS side that provides more opportunity. If that does occur, Grinwis provides the Lions with a good, young goalkeeper that can take over that role to ensure the club continues to be in good hands for that position.