On several occasions over the years, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has given players an opportunity to prove themselves in a pressure situation. In the US Open Cup’s single-elimination format, one mistake can send you home. And with nearly every tournament game taking place midweek, teams are often managing their roster in between weekend league games, giving reserve players a chance to shine.
Orlando City SC backup goalkeeper Adam Grinwis got his chance to shine for the Major League Soccer side in the club’s quarterfinal match against New York City FC on July 10. Orlando City finished with a 1-1 draw, with Grinwis making three saves over 120 minutes. Then, in the penalty kick shootout, Orlando won 5-4 with Grinwis making two saves to send City to the Semifinals for the first time in club history.
For his efforts, Grinwis was voted TheCup.us Player of the Round. The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters and select backers (those that pledge $10 or more) from TheCup.us’ Patreon team. Grinwis beat out Angelo Rodriguez of Minnesota United FC for the award. Rodriguez scored a first half hat trick in a 6-1 home win over New Mexico United (USL Championship). Defender Larrys Mabiala of the Portland Timbers (MLS), who anchored a defensive unit that shut out MLS’ best team in a 1-0 road win vs. LAFC, also received strong support.
Grinwis was still in college at the University of Michigan when he started adding to his US Open Cup resume. The Ada, Mich. native spent three summers playing for the Michigan Bucks (now Flint City Bucks), where he was named the league’s 2012 Goalkeeper of the Year, 2012 Rookie of the Year and the MVP of the 2014 PDL championship game as he led the Bucks to the title.
As a college player playing in the Premier Development League (now USL League Two), he was able to get experience playing against pro teams in the US Open Cup. The Bucks qualified for the tournament in all three years, and his shining moment came when he started all four games of the Bucks’ run to the Fourth Round in 2012. After back-to-back shutouts over Jersey Shore Boca (USASA) and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL Pro), the Bucks pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the Modern Era (1995-present).
What a ????!@OrlandoCitySC is headed to the Semifinals with a win in PKs vs. @NYCFC!
This is what #USOC2019 is all ABOUT!?
? Highlights pic.twitter.com/Y45LLpXySk
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) July 11, 2019
Playing at home in their indoor stadium at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich., the Bucks scored a 93rd minute goal by Nermin Crnkic and held on to upset the Chicago Fire of MLS, who were the previous year’s runner-up. Grinwis made seven saves that day and was a finalist for TheCup.us Player of the Round.
Grinwis’ performance at Michigan, where he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection, and his accomplishments with the Bucks earned him his first pro contract with the Rochester Rhinos (USL). He would earn another Open Cup shutout with a 1-0 win over the NPSL’s Greater Binghamton FC, then would spend a season with Saint Louis FC (he would be in goal for the Chicago Fire’s 1-0 win over Saint Louis in the Open Cup), before signing with Orlando City prior to the 2018 season.
Grinwis would make five starts during the 2018 season, showing some flashes of brilliance, including a clean sheet in his MLS debut, a scoreless draw against the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 22, 2018.
The Open Cup has been Grinwis’ only playing time this season, starting all three games of Orlando’s cup run. He made three saves in his season debut in the team’s 3-1 Fourth Round road win against Memphis 901 FC (USL Championship). Grinwis followed that up with a 2-1 extra time win at home over the New England Revolution, where he only had to make two saves in 120 minutes of work.
2019 TheCup.us Player of the Round winners
Round 1: Charles Boateng (Richmond Kickers, USL-1)
Round 2: Bryant Martin (Florida Soccer Soldiers, USASA)
Round 3: Blake Frischknecht (Orange County FC, NPSL)
Round 4: Teal Bunbury (New England Revolution, MLS)
Round 5: Sam Fink (Saint Louis FC, USL-C)
Quarterfinals: Adam Grinwis (Orlando City SC, MLS)
.@NYCFC chose the opposite end of The Wall.
The Wall doesn’t care. #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/RnAsjJsTb1
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) July 11, 2019