Orlando City has loaned Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar to the Tulsa Roughnecks of the USL Championship for the remainder of the 2019 season. The 21-year-old has yet to play a single minute for Orlando City or indeed for any professional team. He will now go on loan to get meaningful experience.
The Lions signed Stajduhar in 2015 as the team’s fourth Homegrown Player after a successful stint with the U-23 academy team and a No. 4 ranking nationally by Top Drawer Soccer. He has spent the bulk of his professional career as a backup or injured. The first few years of his contract, Stajduhar was with Orlando City B and backed up Earl Edwards Jr and Jake Fenlason but he only made the 18 five times with OCB and once on loan with Louisville City.
He dressed once for OCB in 2016 and also made the Louisville City game day roster once in 2016. He then dressed four times for OCB in 2017. Unfortunately for Stajduhar, he didn’t see any game action.
His career appeared to be finally on the rise, but took an unexpected downturn when he was diagnosed with Localized Ewing Sarcoma in 2017 and spent all of 2018 on the season-ending injury list. He finished his cancer treatment last year and got back to 100% this off-season. Stajduhar likely would not have seen the field at all in 2019 with the Lions, so a loan move is in his best interests. Hopefully, by gaining some professional experience, the 21-year-old will be able to continue his development.
Stajduhar was expected to be one of the three goalkeepers for Orlando City this season. Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luis Muzzi previously said he was happy with the three “really good goalkeepers” that were on the Lions’ roster — Adam Grinwis, Greg Ranjitsing, and Stajduhar. Then, Orlando signed Brian Rowe on Feb. 22, and Rowe has started every game of the season so far.
Stajduhar left today and could be available for selection as early as tomorrow night’s match against Orange County SC, although he’s more likely to be available on Wednesday, March 20 at New Mexico United or next Saturday, March 23 against Tacoma Defiance.
Among Mason’s teammates in Tulsa will be Orlando City’s 2016 fourth-round MLS SuperDraft selection (No. 68 overall) Tobenna Uzo, a forward, and winger Akeil Barrett, the Lions’ second-round SuperDraft pick in 2015 (no. 25 overall). Uzo never signed with Orlando, while Barrett was signed and later waived.
While there, he’ll also be playing for former OCSC starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who is an assistant coach under Tulsa Head Coach Michael Nsien.
What This Means for Orlando City
Honestly, this doesn’t mean a lot for Orlando City in the short term, but it could help significantly over the long haul. The Lions get to ship out their Homegrown goalkeeper for some much-needed pro experience to hopefully assist in his development. Stajduhar leaving does not open up a spot on the first-team roster, nor does it mean the Lions will be signing a replacement. Orlando has three goalkeepers with the first team right now and that’s a sufficient number.
Tulsa’s roster shows two goalkeepers. Sean Lewis, 26, was signed in December, and started the Roughnecks’ first match of the season — a 1-1 draw against Portland Timbers 2 last Saturday. He was backed up by 28-year-old Canadian Andrew MacRae. If Stajduhar is going to get his first professional minutes, he’ll have to bypass at least one of those goalkeepers and force Nsien to make a decision.