The month of September was not a kind one to Orlando City. The month saw the Lions' defense let in a whopping 13 goals in five matches. September did actually start well after a huge 4-1 win in Montreal over the Impact, but that's where the good times ceased. The next game saw a nationally televised blowout in LA as the Galaxy dismantled the Lions 4-2. The team then returned home and laid an egg against the, at the time, worst team in the East, the Columbus Crew, losing 4-1.
With playoff hopes hanging on by a thread, the team headed to D.C. in a game with big playoff implications, but once again the Lions came up on the losing end, falling 4-1. The final game of the month was held in Toronto, where Orlando did not let up a goal, but also did not score in a 0-0 showing.
As the calendar is set to roll over to the final month of the season, it's time for The Mane Land staff's picks for the Lions' best goal, save, and player from the month that was.
Goal of the Month: Júlio Baptista vs. D.C. United
It was pretty slim pickings for goals scored by Orlando City this month. Not including the first game of the month, the Lions only were able to score four goals in four games. Out of those four, the only goal scored by Orlando in the D.C. United match was arguably the best of the bunch.
In the 71st minute of the match, Júlio Baptista was fouled just outside the box by D.C.'s Rob Vincent. It was a tough spot to take the free kick, since it was so close to goal, but Baptista was able to step into it, get it just over the wall of D.C. players and off the bottom of the crossbar, beating Bill Hamid for the goal.
Save of the Month: Joe Bendik on Didier Drogba
Joe Bendik had a really tough month. Not necessarily of his own doing, but the netminder for Orlando saw 13 goals pass by him into the back of the net throughout the month of September. His best game of the month was the first up in Montreal. Despite misreading an early free kick from Impact striker Didier Drogba, Bendik came back to make some incredible stops as the game wore on. He was able to save a penalty from Drogba as well, but his best save came in the 39th minute, denying Drogba once again on a point-blank chance.
The play started when the Impact's Donny Toia put a ball from midfield over the top of the Orlando back line. Hassoun Camara then one-timed the ball across the face of goal towards Drogba on the far post. Bendik was able to sprint over from one side of goal to the other and make a diving stop on Drogba's effort as he tried to slot the ball away. Another Save of the Week for Joe Bendik to add to his highlight reel.
Player of the Month: Matías Pérez García
Since MPG has joined Orlando City following a trade with San Jose, he has brought a much-needed creative element to Orlando's offense. He's brought hustle, quickness, and flair to Orlando's attacking third, which has led to more chances to score. In Montreal he almost single-handedly created the first two goals and was credited with assists for both of them. Despite the statistics not being there, MPG paired with Kaká and an in-form Kevin Molino is a dangerous attacking midfield for opposing defenses to deal with. If he does come back to Orlando next year, which it seems like he will, the chemistry will develop even more and with some new acquisitions, MPG could be an integral player.
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Only two games remain in Orlando City's season. The Lions dropped out of playoff contention with a 1-0 loss at home to Montreal, so now only an away and home game remain. The team travels to Philadelphia to take on the Union on the Oct. 16th and the final match of the season is at home against D.C. United on the Oct. 23.
Check back at the end of the month for our next installment of The Mane Land monthly awards as well as our end of the season awards following that.
Also, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts for each category in the comments section.