Backup Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar signed to a Homegrown Player contract all the way back on Nov. 9, 2015. After a 2021 season in which his role with the club grew, Stajduhar had his option exercised following the 2021 season to keep him under contract through 2022. He entered his second active season with the club this year and provided some memorable moments on the pitch prior to suffering a jaw injury during training in June, which saw the goalkeeper miss several weeks while healing from surgery. During the course of the season, he also inked a new three-year contract with the club which will go into effect on Jan. 1 and keep him in Orlando through 2025 with a club option for 2026.
Let’s take a look back at his 2022 season.
Stajduhar made his regular-season debut on March 27 in a 1-1 road draw against the Portland Timbers. During the regular season, Stajduhar played in two matches (both starts), conceding six goals on 31 shots faced (15 on target) in his 180 minutes of playing time. The Lions were 0-1-1 in those matches. He finished with nine saves, a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.00, and a save percentage of 60%. One of his six goals against was on a penalty at Portland. He passed at a 71% rate, committed one foul, and was not booked.
The Homegrown goalkeeper began Orlando City’s U.S. Open Cup run in net, starting three matches — against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Inter Miami — posting a record of 2-0-1 and playing 300 minutes. He allowed three goals in those games, for a 1.00 GAA. He made five saves on eight shots on target for a save percentage of 62.5%. Stajduhar passed at an 81.5% rate in USOC play. He stopped one of the four Miami shots on target during the postgame penalty shootout after the teams drew 1-1 on May 25.
Stajduhar also appeared in three matches (all starts) with OCB during the reserve side’s first MLS NEXT Pro season, playing 270 minutes. OCB was 1-2-0 with Mason in goal. He allowed seven goals for a 2.33 GAA and finished with a 63.2% save percentage, 12 saves, an 88.9% passing accuracy, and two clearances.
While the sample size is small, Stajduhar had two clear-cut matches to choose from — both in the U.S. Open Cup. His best game of the season came back on May 10 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup vs. the Philadelphia Union. In his second straight start in the competition, Mason faced a high-powered Union side looking to break its U.S. Open Cup road winless streak. Boasting a 75% save percentage on four shots faced, Stajduhar stood strong until the 77th minute when Stuart Findlay was able to draw one back for the opposition on a recycled set piece from just outside the six-yard box. With the visitors pushing hard for an equalizer late into stoppage time, Stajduhar came up with a smothering stop on his goal line off of the head of Kai Wagner to secure the win for City and a spot in the Round of 16. As if the win wasn’t enough, Mason surprised his girlfriend with an on-field proposal, which she accepted in front of the supporters’ section.
She said yes!— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 14, 2022
Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar surprised his girlfriend with a marriage proposal after his side's 2-1 win against the Philadelphia Union ❤️ pic.twitter.com/FECGo9sdq2
2022 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff awarded Stajduhar grade of 6.5 out of 10 for the 2022 season. A run of strong form in the U.S. Open Cup helped propel the Lions to their first piece of hardware during the club’s MLS era. Stajduhar made the saves one would expect a goalkeeper at this level to make. The 5-1 drubbing at Philadelphia was largely beyond his ability to alter and he allowed no goals in the run of play against Portland.
Stajduhar has cemented himself as the team’s number two option over the last two seasons and as he’s under contract at least through 2025, that should continue. While Pedro Gallese is out of contract and may move on this off-season, Stajduhar would still likely be viewed more as backup goalkeeper material at age 24. Although young goalkeepers have excelled elsewhere in the league, Stajduhar hasn’t shown quite enough in terms of the kinds of spectacular game-changing saves that turn losses into draws and draws into wins just yet.
With City participating in far more than just a regular-season run of matches in 2023, a reasonable baseline expectation for the Homegrown keeper would be for him to continue developing while providing quality time anchoring the back of the Orlando City formation in a variety of matches from next year’s U.S. Open Cup, and spot starts in the MLS regular season.