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Orlando City goalkeeper coach Thabane Sutu: Competition fantastic to see

Orlando City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis warms up before training at Sylvan Lake Park. (Jordan Culver-Orlando Sentinel)

SANFORD, Fla. — In the eyes of Orlando City goalkeeper coach Thabane Sutu, the competition between the four goalkeepers training with the club is too close to call.

Adam Grinwis, Mason Stajduhar, Greg Ranjitsingh and trialist Brian Rowe have all seen minutes during Orlando City’s two preseason scrimmages, Sutu said. He added the four are on the same level, for now.

“It’s going to be their performance in training and then it’s going to be their performance in friendly games that we have and then we’ll make that decision as we get there,” Sutu said about determining who will be Orlando City’s No. 1 goalkeeper.

“As far as standing out, we’ve played two games and all of them have been involved in the games and all of them have been doing quite good. It’s a close one to call, so we’ll see.”

Orlando City opens its regular season March 2 against New York City FC. The team has a closed-door scrimmage against the Philadelphia Union on Tuesday, then it begins the Orlando City Invitational on Saturday. 

“It’s very, very high, but friendly at the same time,” Sutu said about the competition so far. “Guys [are] getting along really well. They’re helping each other out. It’s been good to see, but, obviously, each one of them wants to be the No. 1, but we’ll get to see that on March 2. For now, the competition is really high, and it’s been fantastic to see.”

Sutu said each goalkeeper brings different strengths to the table.

Ranjitsingh won back-to-back USL titles while with Louisville City, which is where Sutu was from 2015 until he joined Orlando City head coach James O’Connor last summer.

“He knows how I like to work,” Sutu said about Ranjitsingh. “Obviously, he knows how James wants him to work, too. Of course, he’s been part of a winning program [at Louisville City]. It’s a lower level, for sure, but he’s got a mentality of winning and he brings that culture with him to here.”

Rowe was brought in during the Lions’ stint at IMG Academy in Bradenton. The MLS veteran is out of contract after one year with the Vancouver Whitecaps, but he spent six seasons with the LA Galaxy.

He’s still a trialist with Orlando City.

“He’s been awesome,” Sutu said. “Mentoring the other three guys about certain things and his experiences with MLS. He’s been a huge help. Obviously, he’s a good goalkeeper. We haven’t signed him yet, so that’s up to the powers that be to make that decision, but absolutely, he’s been great. Not only is he a good goalkeeper, and experienced, he looks like he’s a really nice guy, too.”

And, of course, Grinwis and Stajduhar were with Orlando City last season. Stajduhar sat out last season while battling bone cancer, but is now cancer free and has been training fully. He is eager to crack into the first team lineup.

Grinwis was signed by Orlando City before the start of the 2018 season and ended the year as the No. 1 goalkeeper. He started five of Orlando City’s last six games and conceded six goals while recording 14 saves.

“Adam, he finished the season last year as the No. 1, so hopefully he’s looking to build up on that,” Sutu said. “We’re working really hard with those guys, all of them. Having worked with Adam now and Mason last year, we’re beginning to chart the progression of where we want them to be, put some little building blocks from where they were last year, and then start adding more to their game.”




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