Adam Grinwis got his first crack at MLS action this past Saturday against the Houston Dynamo in Orlando City Stadium. The 26-year-old goalkeeper is the third goalkeeper to play for the Lions this year, following Joe Bendik and Earl Edwards Jr. The Lions were held scoreless for the third straight game, but no goals were conceded in the draw. With that said, how did Grinwis do in his first career start?
Grinwis recorded the second clean sheet of the season for the Lions, with the first being all the way back in April against the Philadelphia Union. He obviously had some jitters, but seemed to learn the pace of the game pretty quickly and assess the action in front of him.
“Yeah there were some nerves, definitely,” he said after the match. “Once the whistle blew it was the same game I’ve always played.”
His first mistake almost cost the Lions a goal though. Grinwis controlled the ball outside of the penalty area as Romell Quioto pressed. Grinwis moved back into the penalty area, looked to control the ball but was dispossessed by Quioto who easily scored, but the goal was stripped away after it was determined that Grinwis had possession of the ball in his penalty area. It was nearly costly. Grinwis did what he needed to do, but he underestimated Quioto’s speed and had he been any more deliberate in covering the ball the goal would have stood.
“It’s never a goal right? Right when it happened, honestly the first thing that came into my mind was I’m just gonna clear this ball out, and then I was like ‘Oh, I’m right by the box, I’m just going to step it in and dive on it,’” Grinwis said. “I felt like I got on top of it and all of sudden it squeaked out and I was confused because I thought I had control of it. I really wasn’t concerned. Obviously it’s a nervy moment and I’m sorry to everybody else who had to go through that with me but that would have been a big black eye on the debut. So I was really thankful that justice was served on that one.”
It was after this play that Grinwis seemed to get comfortable. He only had to make one save, on a shot right at him, but he got out of the first half without conceding a goal, which must have given him some confidence going into the second half. The confidence was definitely there because he showed much more willingness to be a part of the action and force himself onto opposing attackers.
His best play came in the 58th minute when he came off his line to deny Quioto on a very nice save after the Dynamo attacker beat the Orlando City defense. After Jonathan Spector headed away a follow-up shot from Tomas Martinez, the crowd gave a standing ovation which ignited a fire under the young goalkeeper.
“Obviously it was a 1-v-1 moment, took a touch of his chest, or head maybe and I thought it was a bad touch, and then the second touch wasn’t very good either,” Grinwis said. “For a brief moment I thought I was going to be able to slide in and just make a play and kind of 50/50 challenge with him. Last minute I decided to just hold up and stand my ground and play it honest and I thought I got caught in no man’s land for a second. But I was thankful to pick up the save and my captain came in and helped me out in the second one.”
After the amazing save, the game seemed to slow down until the 80th minute after a flurry of corners came from the Dynamo, but Grinwis and the defense held their ground to keep the clean sheet.
Assessing his debut is pretty easy. Grinwis made three solid saves and picked up the clean sheet, both positives in an MLS debut. Every goalkeeper makes minor mistakes and the same went for Grinwis in his debut, but he seemed to let his mistakes go and move on as the game continued.
A win for his efforts would have been nice but the Lions just could not score a goal to give Grinwis a lead. Despite this, he stood his ground in net, played a solid match, and was a big part in the Lions picking up the point at home. It will be interesting to see the direction that James O’Connor wants to take with his third goalkeeper but the match against the Dynamo showed mostly good things and a potential bright future for Grinwis with Orlando City.