After going through the first month undefeated, and struggling a bit though the second month, Orlando City saw its month of May do just a bit better in terms of results. Starting the month off with a comeback draw against the New York Red Bulls, a team the Lions had just lost to, 3-2, two weeks beforehand, Orlando dropped a very poor game in Kansas City, had a bounce-back win at home against Montreal, drew against Philadelphia and finished with a miraculous comeback draw at NYCFC. Although they have dropped points in games this month, much like last month, the Lions have managed to score in every match this season.
As the calendar is set to turn to June, 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: Cyle Larin vs. Montreal Impact
In the only win on the month, the Canadian striker was able to bag a brace against the French Canadian MLS side, with his second goal being the eventual game winner. Although the credit for the goal goes to Larin, both Kaká and Júlio Baptista put the goal together.
After Cristian Higuita got the ball on the right wing, the Colombian crossed the ball into Kaká, who chested it down at the top of the 18-yard box, right to Baptista. The Beast then one-touched it back into the path of Kaká, who slotted the ball towards the back post for Larin to finish off. Now we'll never know if Ricky meant to pass the ball or if it was a shot, but Larin being right there to put it away is all that matters.
Kevin Molino's late equalizer against NYCFC fell one vote shy of being our goal of the month, but the staff felt Larin's was more deserving.
Save of the Month: Joe Bendik on Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi vs. Sporting Kansas City
This month's best save is more of a save sequence than just one out-and-out save. Last month, Joe Bendik's best save came in the team's second loss of the year at the hands of the Red Bulls. This month's also happened to come in a loss as well, with added circumstances on both back-to-back saves.
At the brink of halftime, the Lions were in the process of clearing their lines after a cross into the box from SKC. As they moved the ball forward, midfielder Darwin Cerén went down with an injury in the penalty area, but play did not stop. After an Orlando turnover, Dom Dwyer got behind the defensive line and, because Cerén was down, was through on goal. But Bendik, after originally stumbling, came up with a big save from his knees, deflecting the ball enough for Tommy Redding to clear it away. The danger was still in play, however, as Jimmy Medranda was able to pick up the clearance and put it back into the danger area. The ball got to Zusi's feet and he took a rip from just outside the 18-yard box, which Bendik again got a hand to, parrying it out of play for a corner. The keeper was able to maintain the clean sheet with those saves, though most of which were in the first half before SKC would pour on another 20 or so shots on goal, winning 2-1 over the Lions.
Player of the Month: Joe Bendik
For the second month in a row, Joe Bendik gets our vote for player of the month. He has again single-handedly kept the Lions in games by making key save after key save. The keeper currently sits second in MLS with 47 saves, and a 1.62 goals-against average. Just like last month, the numbers don't tell the full story, since Bendik has done all he can with a back line and midfield that has been shaky at times. Without Bendik manning the net, who knows where this Orlando team would be in the conference standings?
Also receiving votes: midfielder Kevin Molino, who has come up in big situations for the Lions. This month alone, he scored three goals and tallied one assist in four matches played. This includes his super sub goal against the Union and his most recent tally against NYCFC, a match in which he also got an assist to Baptista.
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The Lions are coming off a less disappointing May compared to the previous month, but the team is still in a solid place as they head into the Copa América break. With the next 20 days in between games, this gives the team time to get back to full health and get ready for the next game against San Jose in mid June. Check back at the end of June for our next installment of The Mane Land monthly awards.
Also, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts for each category in the comments section.