Bendik Braces For Action

Stefan Frei's injury opens a door for backup keeper to show his quality.

As surprised as he was at first when the Portland Timbers traded him, Joe Bendik said it has been an easy transition so far to Toronto FC.

The 23-year-old said Toronto’s goalkeeper coach, Stewart Kerr, has the same philosophy as his coach at Portland, Mike Toshack who was the Reds’ goalkeeper coach for three seasons before moving to the Timbers last season.

“He’s a great guy, I enjoyed working with him,” Bendik told MLSsoccer.com in a recent interview in Toronto before the club left for Florida.

“It’s nice that Stew actually has the same philosophy, a lot of the same type of training, so it’s been a pretty easy transition.”
 

Video: Joe Bendik on Toronto FC TV.
 

With first goalkeeper Stefan Frei out with a broken nose suffered in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Columbus in the opening match of Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic , Bendik figures to start Wednesday against Orlando City. Frei needed surgery to reset the nose so it is not certain when he will return.

Bendik was obtained on December 12 with allocation money and the third overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft in a trade that sent forward Ryan Johnson and goalkeeper Milos Kocic to the Timbers.

“It was a little bit of a shock just to get traded in general,” Bendik said. “But you really couldn’t ask for a better place to go.”

It helps that Kerr and Toshack have similar approaches.  “Their philosophies are completely built on technique with also reading the game and being comfortable inside the game,” Bendik said. “Taking what happens and putting game-like aspects into training.”

Bendik played in five league games with Portland last season, three of them starts.

“My approach is the same as every club I go to,” he said. “If I’m the starting goalkeeper to push to keep the starting spot and if I’m the second goalkeeper to push the first goalkeeper so we can both reach our  maximum level.  It’s quite simple.”

Listed at 6-3, 205 pounds, Bendik said he tries to use his size to advantage.  “I like to set myself to read the game more than anything and use my big frame to make more of my saves,” he said.

As backup, he believes in staying in the game even from the bench.

“Maybe a starter will play for 90 minutes and make one save and the second goalkeeper will sit for 90 minutes but will be just as tired mentally if you’re really staying inside the game,” he said. “You have to read what the other team is doing and how your team is playing as well because  as soon as you go in you’re going to be put in those situations immediately,  you always have to be on top of the game mentally.”

That is what happened on Saturday when Frei was injured late in the first half. Bendik came in and kept a clean sheet for slightly more than a half.