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The Mane Land Monthly Awards: March 2017

The staff picks for best goal, save, and player in the opening month of the 2017 season.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City finished March with two wins in two tries and posted a 3-1 goal differential for the month. Orlando missed out on a third game in March when an away trip to New England was postponed because of wintry conditions. Even still, the Lions started the season in the best possible fashion; the only bad news in March occurred in the opening minutes of the season when Kaká was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Goal of the Month: Cyle Larin vs. Philadelphia Union

It’s no surprise who scored the goal of the month, since Larin was the only Lion to score in March, but his game-winning goal against Philadelphia gets our vote over his other two March tallies. There were a few votes for the first goal of the season because of the significance and the occasion, not to mention a nice assist from Giles Barnes. But ultimately the staff chose the goal from the Philadelphia game because of the teamwork involved in the goal.

The goal showcased a nice passing move of four first-touch passes that opened up Philadelphia’s defense. It started with an entry pass from Antonio Nocerino, who sent a Jose Aja square ball to Carlos Rivas. Rivas held off his defender and cushioned a layoff for Matia Perez Garcia who played an excellently weighted through ball for Larin. All Larin needed to do was guide the ball into the bottom corner with his first touch. And he did.

Save of the Month: Joe Bendik vs. Jack Harrison (NYCFC)

Joe Bendik opened the season with a Man of the Match performance against NYCFC. Orlando’s last line of defense had six saves in the match. His most memorable save denied Jack Harrison in the 53rd minute and kept Orlando in the lead. The save was good enough for MLS Week 1 Save of the Week, so we’re not the only ones who like it.

Bendik had another great save in the game against Philly, denying Alejandro Bedoya of a late equalizer. With that save, Bendik ran off his line and made himself as big as he could to stop Bedoya’s close-range header, ensuring the Lions left the match with all three points (1:39).

Player of the Month: Cyle Larin

The staff vote was close, but Larin took home the honors over Bendik this month, with Jonathan Spector also receiving consideration. Larin was a real goal hog in March, scoring 100% of the team’s goals. He posted a 3:6 shots to goals ratio during the first two games. More importantly, his contributions helped the Lions to a great start to the 2017 season, despite the offense not firing on all cylinders. Orlando could hardly hang on to possession in the opener against NYCFC, and only looked dangerous in patches against Philly. Larin’s efficiency in front of goal is a big reason Orlando has six points at the start of the season.

Along with our goal of the month nod, we can’t forget that Larin will forever be the first player to score in Orlando’s new home. It never hurts to see it again:

Even with only a couple of matches to pick from, March produced some memorable moments for Orlando City. The season has only just begun, so let's hope there’s plenty more to come.