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Orlando City coach James O’Connor explains why Joe Bendik, Justin Meram didn’t play against Toronto

Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer (14) celebrates with midfielder Tony Rocha (8) as he scores a goal against the Toronto FC during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City defeated Toronto FC 2-1 Saturday night without the services of two typical starters. 

Winger Justin Meram and goalkeeper Joe Bendik didn’t take the pitch against the Reds. Meram wasn’t included in the match-day 18. It was the first MLS match this season during which Bendik wasn’t Orlando City’s starting goalkeeper. Meram has 14 starts for Orlando City this season. 

O’Connor said the Lions’ heavy upcoming schedule is why Meram was left out of the 18. 

“We’ve got loads of games,” O’Connor said. “It wasn’t just Justin. I think, when you look at the amount of players that we have, again we’ve got another game Wednesday, another game Saturday, then we go Thursday, then we go Sunday. 

“Again, there’s loads of games coming up. I think, for all of the players, I’m sure everyone’s going to some games and some minutes in the upcoming games.” 

Bendik was benched in place of Earl Edwards Jr., who turned in a solid performance that included three saves. O’Connor said Bendik was “very professional” when he broke the news to the incumbent starter. 

“For me, as I said to Joe, I think he’s come under a lot of pressure, really,” O’Connor said. “I think because he’s such a great individual, I think he’s put himself under a lot of pressure. I want to try and help Joe as well. I want to try and use a little bit of my experience and try and help him. 

“I think when you look at Earl, I think we’ve got a quality goalkeeper, as well. I think we’re fortunate enough [where] we’ve got two excellent goalkeepers. Joe was exactly how I expected him to be.”




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