Young Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik went 92-plus minutes making big save after big save, nearly rescuing all three points as the young, rebuilt Reds visited Philadelphia’s PPL Park on Saturday.
The Union, getting its top three attackers into the starting lineup together for the first time this year (Conor Casey, Jack McInerney and Sebastien Le Toux), had most of the offense, just as you might expect against a visitor playing with lots of resolve, but still short on top talent.
Bendik, still playing for presumed Reds No. 1 Stefan Frei, who just cannot get healthy, hardly looked like a backup in turning away one Union shot after another. Finally, in the third minute of stoppage time, McInerney was forgotten about at the far post and had the easiest of stick-aways for the late, late home-team equalizer.
Still, Bendik was as responsible as anyone for guiding his club to a point on the road. TFC manager Ryan Nelsen will surely take it; any road point is a good one for TFC in 2013.
Here is what veteran Irish defender Darren O’Dea had to say post-game about his unheralded 23-year-old goalkeeper from Huntington, N.Y.:
He’s been brilliant since he’s come in. How he was the No. 2 in Portland last year – they must have had a very good No. 1 to keep him out. He’s obviously very young, but he’s been excellent. … We’re blessed this year with a fantastic set of goalkeepers and a fantastic goalkeeper coach. It pays off, because goalkeepers are massive part, especially away from home, of picking up points.”
And here is the full package of match highlights, which could easily be re-labeled “The Joe Bendik highlight pack.”