Despite Orlando City having a rough season as a whole, Joe Bendik and Cristian Higuita have slowly been moving towards leading in appearances for Orlando City. Both are just outside of the top five, trailing the likes of Kevin Molino and Dennis Chin. Below are the total rankings of appearances for Orlando City (USL and MLS combined).
- Luke Boden: 150 total appearances with 144 starts.
- Kevin Molino: 144 total appearances with 126 starts.
- Dennis Chin: 103 total appearances with 47 starts.
- Miguel Gallardo: 96 total appearances, starting in all of them.
- Cristian Higuita: 94 total appearances with 79 starts.
- Rob Valentino: 91 total appearances with 89 starts.
- Joe Bendik: 90 total appearances with 89 starts.
Bendik has been a staple with Orlando City for some time now. The Clemson University product played with the Portland Timbers to begin his MLS career and then transferred to Toronto FC before joining the Lions in 2016.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper conceded a league-high 60 goals in his first season with the club, but he gained traction with the supporters and became a fan favorite among the Orlando City faithful. In that same season, Bendik made 114 saves while posting five shutouts. He also won the “MLS Save of the Year” — actually a double save against none other than Dom Dwyer, while the striker was at Sporting Kansas City, and Graham Zusi.
Bendik continued to add to his resume, making 33 appearances with the club in 2017. He upped his save total by four, stopping 118 shots against opponents during that season. He also allowed fewer goals, creating an even more stable relationship with the fans. He’s had it rough this season, even losing the starting job at one point, but Bendik can near 100 appearances by the season’s end with Orlando City.
At a much younger age than Bendik, Higuita has spent most of his career with Orlando City. The 24-year-old midfielder played for Deportivo Cali before coming to the Lions in January of 2015. Coming with Higuita was Deportivo Cali teammate Carlos Rivas, who was shipped to the New York Red Bulls in the off-season and has since returned to Colombia on loan with Atlético Nacional.
Higuita was part of Orlando City’s first ever MLS game, the 1-1 draw against New York City FC on March 8, 2015. He was inconsistent over his first three years with Orlando City but has settled in a bit more in 2018.
Higuita’s appearance rate has gone down a bit in 2018, partly due to a recurring adductor injury, but three of his five career goals with the club have been scored this season. The Colombian has already passed Valentino in club appearances and will likely pass Gallardo as well before the season ends.
Both Bendik and Higuita have become part of Orlando City’s identity and as they continue to climb in appearances with the club, their names will be etched in Orlando City’s history for years to come.