The month of June was a strange one for Orlando City. It started in a very inauspicious way, with a scoreless draw to the Chicago Fire after finishing the game with only nine players on the field. Then, after the U.S. Open Cup loss we shall not speak of, the Lions came back for an exciting 3-3 draw against the Montreal Impact thanks to a stoppage-time goal. After that, the team started a three-game road trip with another stoppage-time goal in Seattle to salvage a draw. Then, the team traveled to Chicago and was beat pretty thoroughly, 4-0, before finally ending the month on a high note by winning in Utah against Real Salt Lake, 1-0.
Orlando now has the fifth-best record in MLS heading into a very light month in terms of games, which should help the team get ready for the late-season push to keep getting points heading into the playoffs.
Now, as the calendar rolls over to July, 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: Jonathan Spector vs. Montreal Impact
This goal was one of two stoppage-time finishes from this month, but I went with this one due to the difficulty of the finish. Matias Perez Garcia put in a fantastic ball in the 93rd minute of play right off the corner, placing it directly on the head of Spector. The difficult part for Spector was directing the ball to the far post and keeping it low enough to go in, which he did so impeccably. Not only was it a great finish, but the dramatic circumstances surrounding the goal make it our goal of the month.
Scott Sutter’s stoppage time equalizer in Seattle was a very close runner-up.
Save of the Month: Joe Bendik vs Seattle Sounders
Joe Bendik had an up-and-down month. He had a few poor games and a few great games, but that’s understandable due to how much he’s had to do lately for this Orlando team. The game in Seattle had arguably not only his best save, but combination of saves, during the month.
This particular play came in the 59th minute after Sounders forward Jordan Morris beat Donny Toia down the line and crossed the ball into the box. After a Will Bruin backheel, Bendik managed to stop a shot first from Clint Dempsey, then the rebound shot from Osvaldo Alonso, before finally pouncing on the ball, halting the attack. The play showed not only Bendik’s ability to stop shots, but also his willingness to put his body on the line to make the save. Also, he perpetuated the idea that to play goalkeeper, you have to be a little bit crazy.
Player of the Month: Jonathan Spector
This marks the second month in a row the new defender has been named our Player of the Month and, honestly, it’s not because of anything amazing that he did, though he was the most consistently solid player of the month. For the last two seasons, the Orlando City defense has lacked consistency. With Spector, he has brought a form of consistency to the team and continues to play at a high level. At the same time, he continues to mentor and lead the defensive line. Though the team has let up 26 goals to this point, it is a vast improvement from the last two seasons. Also, the goal he scored was pretty nice, as we talked about above.
Orlando’s July schedule is made up of only three games. The Lions will take on league-leading Toronto FC on Wednesday, and then have a few weeks off to prepare for the two games they will play against Atlanta United. The first will be on Friday, July 21 in Orlando. Then the next week, on Saturday, July 29, the game will be in Atlanta at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Check back at the end of the month for our next installment of The Mane Land monthly awards as well as our end of the season awards following that.
Also, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts for each category in the comments section.