Orlando City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis recorded a clean sheet Saturday night in his first game playing for the Lions. In addition to recording the second clean sheet of the 2018 MLS season for Orlando City, Grinwis became the fourth Lion to record a clean sheet in MLS and the club’s eighth goalkeeper overall to post a shutout.
During Orlando City’s time in the USL, the club’s spending habits saw the team boast the most impressive roster in the third division. The captain during that era was Miguel Gallardo. In 81 league appearances for the club, Gallardo completed 33 clean sheets, finishing his career in Orlando with an impressive 0.81 goals against average. But, as good as he was, it wasn’t Gallardo by himself.
In three of the four seasons between 2011 and 2014, Orlando City conceded the fewest number of goals in the league, with the Richmond Kickers conceding two fewer in 2013. During those four seasons, four goalkeepers (Gallardo, Sean Kelley, Jon Kempin, and Carl Woszczynski) started for Orlando City at least once and all recorded multiple clean sheets. This was largely due to a strong back line, led by club vice-captain Rob Valentino. In total, the Lions completed 84 clean sheets in 102 games.
As expected, clean sheets became harder to come by when the club made the jump to MLS. Donovan Ricketts and Tally Hall combined for seven total clean sheets in 2017, with the former recording two and the latter keeping five. Joe Bendik took over the position in 2016, recording five in 2016 and seven in 2017. It is important to note that, due to injuries suffered prior to the 2015 season and at the end of the season, Hall only played in 23 games.
Orlando City played 102 league games during the team’s first three seasons in MLS, the same number it played in the USL. In that time, the Lions recorded 19 clean sheets. With the addition of the two clean sheets this season, they now have 21 in the league since joining MLS.
What makes Grinwis’ clean sheet special is that it occurred in his first game playing with the club. In doing so, he becomes the third Lion to achieve that feat. Backup goalkeeper Sean Kelley got his first start on June 14, 2011 in the U.S. Open Cup, where he helped to defeat the ASC New Stars, 4-0, becoming the first goalkeeper in club history to record a clean sheet in his first game.
However, 12 days later he did concede in a 2-1 win over Antigua Barracuda in his first league start. Tally Hall was the first goalkeeper to record a clean sheet during his first action for the club in a league game and during the MLS era. That game occurred on May 17, 2015, when the Lions defeated the LA Galaxy, 4-0. That game is better remembered for Kaká scoring and removing his shirt, revealing a Kevin Molino jersey after the original Lion’s season-ending injury.
It’s to nobody’s surprise that this year has seen the Lions struggle defensively more than ever before. With five games remaining in the season, they have already conceded 64 goals, surpassing the 60 conceded in 2016 for the club’s most in one season. Having only recorded two clean sheets this season, it’s also likely that they will record the fewest clean sheets in a season since the club’s inaugural campaign in 2011. With five games left, they would need three more to equal the number in 2016, or to not concede another goal this season to equal the amount in 2015 or 2017.
While clean sheets were commonplace during the club’s four years in the USL, they’ve become hard to come by during the first four years in MLS. And in no year has that been more evident than this one. In a year in which the team has conceded the most goals in a season in club history, it was a breath of fresh air to see Grinwis get a clean sheet in his first start with the club. Fans will be hoping to see more going forward.