Orlando City may have fallen short of the playoffs, but the month of October was a good one for the Lions nonetheless. Orlando entered the month already on a three-match winning run and proceeded to extend that streak to five consecutive games with wins over Montreal and New York City FC before dropping the season finale at Philadelphia.
Without further ado, here are The Mane Land staff's picks for best goal, save and player from the month of October.
Goal of the Month
Seb Hines vs. Montreal: With Orlando City chasing Montreal, which was occupying the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Lions were in a must-win situation against the Impact on Oct. 3 at the Citrus Bowl.
After Cyle Larin opened the scoring in the first half, Montreal's Dominic Oduro leveled the score (controversially) in the 42nd minute. With the Lions needing a goal to secure three points and keep the pressure on Montreal down the stretch of the regular season, an unlikely candidate rose to the challenge in the form of defender Seb Hines.
After a corner for Orlando, the ball ping-ponged into and out of the box for a bit when a Darwin Cerén service was deflected out to Luke Boden on the left. Boden sent another ball in front of goal, where it was touched twice by Montreal defenders before finding the right foot of Hines, who struck a volley across the face of goal and tucked it into the right side of net for the match winner.
The Citrus Bowl atmosphere was as loud as it was all season after Hines' bit of magic, and Orlando City lived to play another day in their furious push for the postseason. An unforgettable moment in one of Orlando's more memorable matches from the 2015 season, and it's why Hines takes home the Goal of the Month award.
Save of the Month
Josh Ford vs. Philadelphia: While Tally Hall was making great stops throughout most of the season for the Lions, the goalkeeper's knee injury suffered against NYCFC forced him to miss Orlando's season finale against the Philadelphia Union. In his stead, Josh Ford made his debut between the sticks for OCSC, and performed admirably in the 1-0 defeat.
Ford came up big early on in the match, proving that he was not intimidated by the big stage he was thrust onto when Hall went down. In the 19th minute, Philly's C.J. Sapong took advantage of a sleeping Orlando City defense off a throw in and made a run into the left side of the City 18-yard box. Sapong unleashed a burner with his left foot that was moving up and across the keeper's face and headed for the top shelf, but Ford got a big paw on the ball and deflected it just enough to force it onto the crossbar.
(Save can be found at the 0:28 mark)
It was a fantastic play by the reserve goalkeeper to keep Philadelphia off the board and bail out his back line, which had been caught out in a momentary lapse. The only goal that Ford would surrender on the evening came in the form of a penalty kick, so it was quite the debut for Ford despite the losing effort from the team.
Player of the Month
Rookie Striker Cyle Larin: Larin turned in a fantastic rookie season, but from August until late September the Canadian international was stuck on 11 goals, level with Damani Ralph's previous MLS rookie goal-scoring record.
Larin turned in a hat trick in the last match of September at New York Red Bulls, and he followed that up with three goals in three games in October. His aforementioned score against Montreal was a big goal in a big game, and he followed that up with a brace to beat NYCFC, marking his fourth multi-goal outing of the season.
His performance against NYCFC earned him a Man of the Match rating from Who Scored and had him just below Carlos Rivas and Cristian Higuita in our player grades from that match. It was a stellar way for the shoo-in MLS Rookie of the Year to end his rookie campaign, and the future certainly appears bright.