Mason Stajduhar Could be the Long-Term Solution at Goalkeeper
The story of Mason Stajduhar is one of the most amazing things in the history of Orlando City. The 24-year-old goalkeeper signed a homegrown contract all the way back in 2015, making him the longest tenured Orlando City player by some distance, and in that time he also overcame a bout with bone cancer.
He didn't make an appearance for the Lions until last season, but over the last year, the one-time Tulsa Roughneck has become a solid backup goalkeeper for Orlando City. With Pedro Gallese out on international duty with Peru, Stajduhar got the start between the stick and performed well.
He wasn't asked to do much, but he did a fairly good job claiming balls into the box and made a big save on the final play of the match to secure the draw. The goal he conceded was a penalty, so it's hard to blame him for that.
It was another solid performance off the back of 2021, when he played five times, going unbeaten with two wins and three draws. Stajduhar doesn't have crazy impressive underlying numbers, but his post-shot expected goal difference through his six career starts is perfectly average. His ability in the air to claim crosses is actually quite good, and his distribution is still a work in progress.
As far as backup goalkeepers go in MLS, Stajduhar is among the very best, and he's only been improving under Oscar Pareja's staff.
Pedro Gallese is the undisputed #1 for Orlando City. He's an incredibly experienced player and one of the best goalkeepers in South America for his national team. While some of his underlying stats aren't actually as good as you'd think, he's still one of the best keepers in MLS. But his time in Orlando could be running out.
The Peruvian is 32 years old, perfectly fine age for a goalkeeper, but his contract is running out with Orlando City. Gallese is a high-profile goalkeeper and could command a high salary for his position. Per the 2021 MLSPA Salary Guide, Gallese was paid $410,000 by the club, and a new contract, based off of the other goalkeeper salaries in the league, should probably be between $500-600 thousand.
We also know that Gallese's contract talks have been ongoing for some time, with no reported progress being made. With that in mind, it may be time to start succession planning for the goalkeeper position, and Mason Stajduhar has absolutely earned an opportunity to earn the #1 spot for this club.
He's shown plenty of promise through six starts and an extended run of 10-15 games as a starter would show if that's only the beginning or just a high water mark for the academy product. After what we've seen, Stajduhar deserves the opportunity to prove himself if and when Gallese moves to greener pastures.