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Orlando City goalkeepers share close bond, backups stay ready

Orlando City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis knows how to stay ready while waiting for an opportunity to play. The Lions’ goalkeepers share a close bond, with the backups pushing to learn while waiting for a chance to play.

Adam Grinwis (left) and Greg Ranjitsingh have both been waiting behind Orlando City starter Brian Rowe for a chance to start. (Photos by Vincent Carchietta and Jasen Vinlove-USA Today Sports)

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis knows how to stay ready while waiting for an opportunity to play.

Grinwis sat almost the entire 2018 campaign behind Joe Bendik and Earl Edwards Jr. before getting his shot in the dying stages of a lost season for the Lions. He got a shutout in his first match (a 0-0 draw with the Houston Dynamo) and started in four of Orlando City’s final five matches of 2018.

Now he’s back on the bench. Brian Rowe, a veteran signed during preseason training, has been Orlando City’s starter through the team’s first nine matches. And once again, Grinwis is just waiting for his shot.

“I think what I learned last year was that if I take everything head-on and do absolutely everything I can to better myself and do everything I can do improve on my weaknesses, that once that chance comes, I’m going to be prepared,” Grinwis told Pro Soccer USA. “I think it’s just taking it day by day and really narrowing my focus to be the best goalkeeper I can be, be the best teammate I can be, work as hard as I possibly can and just trust in this process that it will work itself out when it’s meant to.

“And, in the meantime, supporting whatever keeper’s playing.”

Grinwis and MLS newcomer Greg Ranjitsingh have served as the Lions two backup goalkeepers this season. Both have made the match-day 18 so far. Grinwis has been included three times and Ranjitsingh has been part of the squad on match day six times.

“I think as a goalkeeper, you find your role within a goalkeeper union and I think this particular goalkeeper union is really strong,” Grinwis said. “I think all three of us are similar. Similar people, similar work ethic, which makes it – it’s never easy to not be playing, but it makes it a little bit easier to work alongside these guys and support each other.”

Orlando City’s fourth goalkeeper, Homegrown player Mason Stajduhar, is on loan with Tulsa Roughnecks FC, where he’s started five matches so far this season.

Ranjitsingh said he’s embracing the opportunities he does get. He was with Louisville City FC – where O’Connor used to coach – last season and won a USL title. 

“There’s some weeks where your name doesn’t get called to be in the 18 or your name doesn’t get called to be in the XI, there’s some frustration there,” Ranjitsingh said. “But I think that you just have to take those opportunities. You know, if you’re not the 18, you do the extra training session. If you are in the 18 but you’re on the bench, you use that day off to get some work in.”

Rowe is fifth in the league with 30 saves. He’s faced 66.7 percent of the shots he’s faced so far this season. Coach James O’Connor praised Rowe’s leadership and character off the field and called the veteran keeper a “smashing” guy.

“Hearing that from that gaffer is always an amazing thing,” Rowe said of O’Connor’s praise. “Something I just just want to bring in and be as productive and as helpful to this team as I can. I think bringing in some experience and just trying to be someone that they can rely and that’s consistent every week back there.”

Grinwis and Ranjitsingh agreed Rowe has been a solid leader for the goalkeepers this season. Rowe is in his eighth MLS season.

“Brian, obviously an excellent guy,” Ranjitsingh said.

“He obviously brings a wealth of experience to me and Adam, who are younger. Every day, you know, you come to training and there’s a lot you can learn. We really appreciate the leadership role that he’s taken on here and it’s helped us grow.”

They both also said they’re all good friends off the field. That friendship started when they met at IMG Academy during preseason and has continued into the regular season. 

“We do a little ‘SOHO Juice Company Friday’ where we all get together and go grab a Soho Acai Bowl,” Grinwis said. “Stuff like that, once or twice or week, get together. You know, it’s tough with guys with wives and guys with kids, but those two are two really unique relationships that I have and I’m super-thankful that regardless of the competition, we can have friendships on and off the field, regardless of who’s playing.”

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