Orlando City today announced that goalkeeper Brandon Austin has returned to Tottenham Hotspur. To replace Austin, the club has signed former Lion and club folk hero Adam Grinwis through the end of 2021 with an option year for 2022.
Austin had been on loan from Spurs since Jan. 22 and will now return to England. The initial loan spell had been six months with an additional six-month option. Given the time of the announcement, it seemed to be a loan from January through June but it apparently ran through the end of July and the option was not exercised, possibly due to Tottenham wanting him back prior to the upcoming Premier League season. Orlando went with someone the staff and team knew well in Grinwis, who previously spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with Orlando.
“We thank Brandon for all his hard work during his time here,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “The professionalism and dedication that he showed to improve not only himself, but the team as a whole, did not go unnoticed. We want to wish Brandon the best of luck in the upcoming Premier League season.”
The 22-year-old Austin made five starts for Orlando City in 2021 while Pedro Gallese was away with Peru at the Copa America, winning three times and picking up one clean sheet with eight total saves. He started five consecutive matches from June 19 — winning 3-2 over Toronto FC in his MLS/Orlando City debut — through the team’s 3-1 loss at Chicago on July 7. The Hemel Hempstead, England native’s only shutout with Orlando came in a 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Exploria Stadium on June 22. He completed 73.2% of his passes in those five games.
Grinwis, 29, has more experience than Austin in North American soccer, though not much more at the MLS level. He has five career MLS appearances (all starts), with one clean sheet, a 70% save percentage and 14 saves. He also stopped a Derrick Etienne penalty against the Supporters Shield-winning New York Red Bulls on Oct. 28, 2018 — an eventual 1-0 loss on the final match day of the season. His MLS and Orlando City debut came Sept. 22, 2018 against the Houston Dynamo, when he was named Man of the Match after making three saves and keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw.
“We are really happy to welcome Adam back to Orlando City,” Muzzi said in a club press release. “With Adam, we get a player that loves the club, knows and is comfortable with the guys, and that has a successful history here.”
Fans will, of course, remember his heroics in the club’s 2019 U.S. Open Cup run, particularly in the July 10 penalty shootout victory over New York City FC, which will forever be known as the “Running of The Wall” game. Grinwis stopped Alex Ring and Maxime Chanot to lead Orlando to a 5-4 penalty shootout win and the Lions advanced to the competition’s semifinals for the first time in club history. He played in all four of the Lions’ U.S. Open Cup matches that season — the most recent ones played, as it turns out, due to the pandemic.
Following the 2019 season, Orlando City declined to pick up the options for backup goalkeepers Grinwis and Greg Ranjitsingh. Grinwis signed with the Sacramento Republic prior to the 2020 season and the Ada, MI native appeared in four matches, keeping one clean sheet and making four total saves before his season was derailed in July due to a serious knee injury. Rafael Diaz stepped into the starting spot left by Grinwis and did well, so the Republic parted ways with The Grinch after the 2020 season.
What It Means for Orlando City
Pedro Gallese will be the starter for Orlando City whenever he’s healthy and not on national team duty. With Mason Stajduhar making his MLS debut just last night, the Lions have a pair of backups for the Peruvian who they can call on with confidence and neither will break the bank.
According to the MLSPA, Austin was making a base salary of $135,000 and $141,750 in guaranteed compensation. It’s unknown at the moment what Grinwis will make through the end of the season but it’s fair to say the veteran can provide just as much quality as Austin, and that’s not a slight on the Englishman, who served the club well in his short stint here.
With Grinwis, the club brings back a fan favorite and a great team player with a few more years of experience than Austin. Both Grinwis and Stajduhar can make spot starts when Gallese is out but El Pulpo will be between the pipes whenever possible. Given the situation, this is a solid move by the club and one that won’t be disruptive, since Grinwis had already been training with the club over the past several weeks.