Joe Bendik has left Toronto FC, but not before leaving one last parting gift. The veteran keeper was traded to Orlando City SC this morning in exchange for a conditional fourth round pick in the 2017 MLS entry draft. The conditions of the pick were not released as per club policy.
It was made clear that the 26-year-old keeper would not be returning to the club this year when they declined the option on his contract, along with this year's starting goalkeeper Chris Konopka. The idea was to make room for the club's younger keepers, draft pick Alex Bono and academy product Quillan Roberts.
Ultimately, it may have come down to what Bendik was being paid that had the club cut him loose. He earned $157,375 in guaranteed compensation, which is a lot for a goalkeeper who would lose his job to a much cheaper backup option.
The club is still looking to acquire a replacement starting goalkeeper to play in front of Roberts and Bono, neither of whom have played a single minute in Major League Soccer. At this time that goalkeeper is believed to be coming from outside of MLS, after the club has already explored options within the league.
Coming into the season Bendik was considered to be the club's number one goalkeeper, and for the foreseeable future as well. That would change when an injury opened the door for backup Konopka, who would never really relinquish his hold on the position.
Bendik would end up playing only 13 games this past season, allowing 27 goals and a 2.08 goals against average with a 62.5 per cent save percentage, recording only one clean sheet. With Bendik in net Toronto would go an underwhelming 4-8-1, albeit largely due to the backline in front of him.
Orlando will give Bendik a chance to reignite his career, as the club also declined the option on their starting goalkeeper, Tally Hall. Hall has been linked to Toronto FC, mostly out of their necessity to sign a keeper, but has yet to find a new MLS club.
Without Hall in the Orlando nets, Bendik will be competing with Earl Edwards Jr. for the Orlando City net. Against a player who is 23 and still doesn't have an appearance with the big club, Bendik should have the inside track to the Orlando job.
While his career was sidetracked in Toronto, Bendik still does possess the abilities to turn things around in Orlando. His shot stopping qualities have never been called into question as he has some of the best athletic attributes of any keeper in this league.
Where he needs to improve is his technical abilities, like controlling his box and communicating with defenders. His distribution could also use some major work if he wants to be considered among the league's best goalkeepers, or for the US men's national team as has been briefly suggested in the past.
Bendik will also have to regain his confidence, which has likely shot after the way things ended in Toronto. If he can do all of these things than Toronto will have a familiar face in net when they played Orlando next season.