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2018 Orlando City Season in Review: Adam Grinwis

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The newest Orlando City goalkeeper was the most consistent.

MLS: Orlando City SC at New England Revolution Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City signed goalkeeper Adam Grinwis in early January to compete with Earl Edwards Jr. for the backup role behind incumbent Joe Bendik. By late September, he had surpassed Edwards and Bendik on the depth chart, starting five of the Lions’ final six matches in 2018. Only an infection kept him out of the match at FC Dallas or it would have been six straight appearances for the former Saint Louis FC stopper.

“Adam impressed in our preseason friendly last season and has a track record of success in the USL,” General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “His athleticism, character and competitiveness will fit in well with our group of goalkeepers.”

Budalic was correct about Grinwis’ athleticism and character, but it was his footwork and shot-stopping ability that combined to push him past his two teammates and onto the field in the late stages of the season.

So, how did he do this year?

Statistical Breakdown

Grinwis appeared in five matches in 2018 — all starts for 450 minutes — allowing six goals and making 14 saves on 20 shots on goal in that span. He faced one penalty kick and stopped it when he kicked away Derrick Etienne’s attempt in the season finale against the New York Red Bulls on Oct. 28. He compiled a 1-3-1 record as a starter with a shutout in his MLS debut — a 0-0 draw at home against the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 22.

Ironically, Grinwis had the worst passing percentage of the three Orlando City goalkeepers in 2018, connecting on just 58%, compared to Bendik’s 62% and Edwards’ 77%. But Grinwis played more safely, averaging 8.2 long ball attempts per game, while Edwards (7.8) and Bendik (6.1) took more chances with short passes under pressure on average.

He did not appear in any U.S. Open Cup matches.

Best Game

The easy move here would be to take his lone victory against Columbus or his shutout draw against Houston. Another choice might be to go with the game in which he received Man of the Match from both the staff and readers — the 2-0 loss at the New England Revolution. But instead, I’m going with the 1-0 loss at New York Red Bulls to end the season.

Grinwis kept the Lions in the game throughout the 90 minutes, giving his team a chance to win — the thing goalkeepers are supposed to do. He made three saves on four shots on goal, with the Red Bulls keeping a lot of pressure on Orlando City, particularly in the second half. He faced 13 total shot attempts and came off his line to punch the ball away twice. He only had one shot on target to face in the first half, but it came from the spot, when Derrick Etienne tried to fool him up the middle. Despite committing to his right, Grinwis was able to kick out his feet and not only stop the shot, but also make sure there wasn’t a rebound to tap into the net. The penalty wasn’t the best, but what made it even more difficult was Etienne’s sudden stop-and-hop on the run-up.

He nearly got down in time to deny Etienne’s powerful shot in the second half, getting a touch on it despite the pace on it. Additionally, he made a good stop to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 83rd minute and another on Daniel Royer in the 94th minute. It was a good night overall for Grinwis despite the loss against a determined New York team gunning for a Supporters Shield.

2018 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Grinwis a composite score of 7 for the 2018 season. It’s a small sample size, but that is in line with his individual grades, of which 5.5 was the lowest and he got a 7.5 three times as his highest of his five single-game scores. His play was far from perfect but Grinwis showed that at the very least he can serve as a capable MLS backup goalkeeper. His shot stopping and reflexes were strong, his distribution was mostly good, he was very calm under pressure, and he read counter attacks well. He came off his line aggressively and put attackers under pressure rather than absorb it himself. He sometimes didn’t get a good view of shots from distance and he got caught in between two minds on the first goal in the Seattle game, but for a young guy seeing his first MLS games, he was impressive more often than not.

2019 Outlook

Grinwis’ deal is set to expire at the end of the 2018 calendar year per Transfermarkt and it’s unclear what Orlando City will do with its goalkeeping position, considering it was not a team strength in 2018. However, at just $67,500 in guaranteed money this year, Grinwis was a bargain and even with a raise he’d be an economical option as a backup goalkeeper who could push for starting minutes and handle himself well on the pitch when called upon. The game doesn’t seem too big for him. The Lions could do worse than to bring back Grinwis and continue to develop him behind a clear-cut starter — whether that ends up being Bendik or someone else.


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