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The Mane Land Monthly Awards: April 2017

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

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City was near perfect last month, finishing April on top of the league standings. It seems surreal and the only thing we can do is cherish these prosperous times. It seems too weird to think that April actually started off with a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, albeit in an away game. Since then, the Lions have won four straight games including a huge away victory at New York City FC.

Goal of the Month: Carlos Rivas vs. Colorado Rapids

Last month, there were seven goals to choose from but one stood above the pack. This goal was scored in Orlando City’s last game of the month at home against the Colorado Rapids by Carlos Rivas. This was Rivas’ first goal of the season, though he did have a few powerful long shots along with his typical whiffs. It was also the go-ahead goal in a tense affair against the Rapids.

In terms of the quality of the strike, this goal was top notch. Rivas loves to take shots right in front of the 18-yard box and this one flew into the top right corner. He also happened to be assisted by fellow Colombian Cristian Higuita, though it was a simple pass.

Will Johnson’s goal against the LA Galaxy also received strong consideration from the staff.

Save of the Month: Joe Bendik vs. David Villa (NYCFC)

It seems Joe Bendik has a save of the week candidate every week. The good thing about his performances this season is that he has not only been doing the spectacular, but also all the routine saves. This is save of the month though, so of course we had to pick out just one of his many spectacular saves. This particular one came minutes away from the end of a crucial road win against NYCFC. The fact that it came late and sealed the win is a big plus, but it was also a fantastic reaction save.

Player of the Month: Jonathan Spector

I think what’s so great about this season’s squad is that there are many people who you could crown as the best player. Joe Bendik is surely one of the league’s best goalkeepers, Cyle Larin carries the goal-scoring load, and Will Johnson has been great anywhere Jason Kreis has put him. None of these players have won our player of the month, though Johnson was a close runner-up. April’s player of the month was another standout, Jonathan Spector.

It is no secret that the key to Orlando City’s success has been its defense. This month, pretty much everything has fallen into place and it all starts at the back. Watch one game and it is clear to see that Spector is the leader of this back line. One key stat that proves his involvement is his staggering average of 7.7 clearances per game this season. He also looks very comfortable playing next to either Tommy Redding or Jose Aja. He just makes everyone around him better. Of course, there are many who could have been picked, but considering that this team is built on defense, there is no better choice than the Lions’ fearless defensive leader.

It has surely been a wild month for Orlando City. Lets all hope these performances can continue. It's a long season ahead and we can’t wait to see it unfold.