August was a rough month for Orlando City. The Lions managed just a 1-4-2 record (including friendlies) and were outscored 19-8.
However, after a draw with Chicago on Saturday, Orlando City still sits above the line and in a playoff spot. And if the Lions play the way they did against the Fire, they should have a better September and improve their position in the playoff hunt.
But in a rather tough month, it was fairly difficult to find players and plays worthy of awards. This month's awards feels a bit like the participation trophies that James Harrison hates so much.
But here are the nominations along with The Mane Land's picks.
Goal of the Month
1. Cyle Larin vs Chicago Fire
Goal starts at :24.
It makes sense that the goal of the month comes from this match. The Lions scored more goals in this match than in all the games for the rest of the month combined. This goal was a result of one of the best moments of team play all month. It was a fantastic run by Ashe, and a good long pass by Servando Carrasco to get it onto Ashe's feet for him to set up Larin with a good, low cross. Larin does what he is best at and keeps his composure and finishes.
This goal erased an early deficit and allowed Orlando City to get rolling offensively. Larin would add another goal later in the match that would tie the rookie record.
Larin's goal* on Saturday--potentially a record breaker--could have made this list, but, MLS has yet to decide whether that goal should actually be credited to Larin.
*called an Eric Gehrig own-goal
2. Luke Boden vs Toronto FC
Go to 1:01 to see the Boden goal
Like I said, not a lot to choose from this month. It's a nice goal, and perfectly placed by Boden. But it's not anything to write home about.
It was a smart decision by Boden to stop at the top of the box rather than trail Larin and three Toronto FC defenders into the penalty area. This gave him enough space to get a clean look at the goal.
The Mane Land Staff picks: Larin vs Crew. It really wasn't all that close. Larin's goal was a better example of team play, and it mattered within the context of the game.
Save of the Month
1. Anything Earl Edwards against Louisville FC
I mean, the Orlando City backup just stood on his head all game for the team. He was put in some pretty bad situations and almost always bailed out Orlando City. It's a shame he gets a loss in this effort. The first save in this set is pretty impressive just because of the traffic in front of Edwards.
2. Tally Hall vs Seattle
Pretty much speaks for itself. Dirty save by the Orlando City keeper. He has been the most consistent player for Orlando City all season and this was just another exhibition of his brilliance. Obafemi Martins tried to catch Hall off guard by quick-kicking the penalty and Hall was on his toes to make the save and thwart the rebound attempt by Andy Rose as well. Just stellar.
The Mane Land Staff Pick: Hall vs Seattle. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better save than that set of back-to-back stops all year. Edwards' saves kept Orlando City in the game for 90 minutes, but none of them were of Hall's caliber.
Player of the Month
It has been a rough month for just about everybody. We would give it to the kit man, but even he struggled.
But we've come away with two options:
1. Midfielder Cristian Higuita
Higuita has been one of the few players who has been good more than he has been bad this month. He has done a decent job controlling the midfield and played one of his best games Saturday against Chicago. He also added a goal against Columbus in the 5-2 blowout.
Higuita's downside is that when he is bad, he is awful. He and the rest of the defensive midfield were abysmal against Seattle in the worst match that unit has played all season.
2. Goalkeeper Tally Hall
Sometimes this man keeps Orlando City in games all by himself. It's easy to point at the 16 goals he has given up and say he has played poorly, but that number could easily be 25 goals if not for his efforts. The goal he gave up against Chicago was uncharacteristically poor, but you can't save them all.
The Mane Land Staff picks: Higuita. Honestly, I'm at a disagreement with my colleagues here, but hey, we voted and that's how democracy works. Higuita is a worthy pick, as he has unquestionably been the best field player all month. His popularity among the fan base is rising quickly. He was rumored to be in consideration for national team participation due to his play, though it never came to fruition. He is another Orlando City player who has his best days in front of him.
Like I said, there wasn't a lot to choose from.
But hey, things could be worse. They could have looked like me the last time I played soccer. Against high school girls no less.
Give us your thoughts and drop a comment and tell us which goal, save or player was your favorite this month. Here's to a better September.