So, Orlando City's 2016 season was, in many respects, a letdown. There were highs and lows and a lot of internal changes, but in the end, the team missed the playoffs and their season ended in disappointment
There's a lot to look forward to for next year, though. New stadium, first full year under Jason Kreis, new players and new home jerseys. Until then, though, let's take a look back at the 2016 season and who stood out in the year that was.
Goal of the Year: Brek Shea vs. Portland Timbers
Back at the end of April, I wrote this in the monthly awards: "In what could be in contention for Goal of the Season for Orlando City, Brek Shea's rocket against the defending MLS Cup champions is our goal of April."
It turns out that this goal, at least according to The Mane Land staff, was indeed Orlando City's best goal of 2016.
After getting the ball on the left wing and stumbling a bit, Shea was able to play a nice one-two with Kaká, get the ball in the box, curl the ball off the outside of his foot, and rocket it into the top right corner of the net. This was Shea's first club goal since his days at FC Dallas back in 2012, and what a goal it was.
Kaká's goal against D.C. United also received votes, but it was fairly unanimous that Brek's goal was the winner.
Save of the Year: Joe Bendik on Didier Drogba
In a season in which Joe Bendik made more saves than he ever has in his career, and second-most in all of MLS, there were definitely tons of saves to choose from for this award. With an at most times questionable back line, Bendik was forced time and time again to come up with big stops for Orlando City. Arguably his best on the year, however, was the point-blank save on Montreal's Didier Drogba.
Back in September, I wrote about the save.
"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 Year: Kevin Molino
What a year it was for the Trinidadian midfielder. Coming back from an ACL tear and questions about his ability in MLS, Molino got off to a slow start to the 2016 campaign. After notching his first goal against the Timbers, a penalty which Kaká graciously let him take to help his confidence, Molino began to catch the goal-scoring fire he had back in 2014. The midfielder finished the season with 11 goals and eight assists, which was good for 16th in the league in goals and 24th in MLS in assists. Molino was integral in the Orlando attack, mixing well with Kaká and, later on, Matias Perez Garcia, helping not only score big goals, but set them up as well. Not only that, but Molino is up for MLS Comeback Player of the Year, which, if the MLS voting folks have any sense about, he should win. Overall, it was a breakout year in MLS for Molino with a lot to build on for 2017.
Team captain Kaká also received votes from the staff after another outstanding year.
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Well, that does it for our look back at 2016. We'll keep you updated here at The Mane Land with all the player movement over the next few months and who will be back for the Lions come next year.
Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts for each category in the comments section.