Another month gone, another awards article to see who was the best of the month for Orlando City. The month of August did not start out well for the Lions, who lost their first home game in almost a year to the Seattle Sounders, 3-1. A two-game road trip saw the club manage a 2-2 draw against the Chicago Fire and a 0-0 draw out west against the Colorado Rapids.
The team then came back home, having to face the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. First came the 2-1 loss against the top team, Toronto FC, then a 2-1 win over New York City FC to close out the month.
As the calendar is set to roll over to September, 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. Chicago Fire
The Canadian forward only scored twice this month, but his most memorable one came up in Bridgeview, IL, against the Chicago Fire. Coming off a quick throw-in, already down 1-0, Kaká was able to make a quick one-touch pass over the top of the defense to a running Larin. The forward then muscled off the defender and pulled off a deft, left-footed finish past the diving Sean Johnson, scoring the equalizer. It was a tough finish for Larin's 12th goal on the year, helping the Lions to a 2-2 draw. Now with 13 goals and eight games left, Larin still has a shot of beating out his own personal record of 17 goals last year.
Honorable mention goes to Kaká's goal against NYCFC. The run he made past Jefferson Mena and the resilience to stick with his shot after the initial save is certainly makes for an impressive goal.
Save of the Month: Joe Bendik on Jozy Altidore
Unfortunately in a losing effort, Joe Bendik once again came up with a miraculous save against Jozy Altidore and Toronto FC. When the game was deadlocked at one goal apiece, Toronto came with a flurry of attacks on Bendik and his goal. By far the most impressive save coming from those chances was against Altidore at point-blank range. After Michael Bradley picked out Nick Hagglund on the right wing, the fullback put a one-time cross right onto Altidore's head. Bendik, however, was in the perfect position to put his hand up and deny the U.S. international for the time being. Altidore was able to score 20 minutes later, but the save by Bendik made at the time was nothing short of spectacular.
Player of the Month: Antonio Nocerino
At the start of the season, no one could have expected the turnaround that the Italian midfielder had for Orlando in August. His year started out terribly; fans wanted him out of the club and he wasn't getting much playing time. In steps Jason Kreis, and suddenly he's blossomed into an integral part of the Lions' midfield. While statistically he may not jump out at you, Nocerino has been a true box-to-box midfielder, playing parts on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, helping out in any way possible.
Honorable Mentions: Both Kaká and Matías Pérez García received nominations from our staff. Kaká for his three goals and two assists in the month, and MPG for his impact on the team since his arrival, and the hustle and flair he has brought to the team.
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As the season starts to wind down, the last two months of the campaign will be crucial for the Lions' playoff push. With five games this month, four of which are away from home, this will be the biggest test for Orlando thus far. Orlando will first travel up to Canada to take on the Montreal Impact in a midweek game, then fly out west for a match against the LA Galaxy just four days later. The team then has its only home game of September against the Columbus Crew. After that, the Lions finish out the month against D.C. United in what could be a key match in the race for the playoffs, and then another midweek game in Canada -- this time against Toronto FC for the third time this season.
Check back at the end of the month 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.