It’s that time of year again, when we look back at all of the players on the Orlando City roster who played for the Lions over the course of the season. So you’ll be getting one of these for everyone except Michael Halliday and Mason Stajduhar, who did not see any MLS minutes in 2020.
However, you’ll be getting one for everyone else, even players who left on loan after playing. Let’s dive in.
Jordan Bender became Orlando City’s seventh Homegrown Player signing nearly a year ago to the day, back on Dec. 12, 2019. He had played with OCB in 2019 but battled through some injuries and didn’t get consistent playing time. In 2020, he spent nearly the full season with the first team, aside from some brief time with OCB to get some minutes and stay fit.
Bender appeared in two games with the Lions, starting one, for a total of 46 minutes played. He attempted one shot and committed four fouls, creating two scoring chances. Bender also played three matches (all starts) with OCB for a total of 242 minutes. He was a 79% passer at OCB, attempting three shots, and finishing with one clearance, three tackles, five fouls committed, and two fouls won.
With only two to choose from, it’s easy to pick Bender’s best match of the 2020 season. The Homegrown midfielder started and played the first half of Orlando City’s regular season finale at home against Nashville SC. He collected three of his four fouls on the year in that match, but he also created two scoring chances, including a cross that Daryl Dike nearly finished — if not for a good save from Joe Willis. He attempted one shot, which was off target, and completed six of his 10 pass attempts, as he struggled to get on the ball in the game. He had 18 total touches in the 45 minutes.
2020 Final Grade
Given his limited games and minutes played, The Mane Land staff has to give Bender an incomplete grade for the season. He didn’t look quite ready in his first extended MLS minutes, but given how rarely he saw the field, it’s not surprising if he wasn’t immediately up to speed. The fact that he earned that playing time and that Oscar Pareja trusted him to give it to him is probably a good sign.
I expect Bender will be back to continue his development next season. The 19-year-old Lake Mary native is barely scratching the surface of his professional career.
Check back for more player reviews throughout December.