While the opening month of the season was a bit of a mixed bag for Orlando City SC, there was no such gray area when it came to April. The Lions went a perfect four wins out of four games played in the fourth month of the year, which I didn’t even realize until I was writing this.
The Lions truly caught fire. Chris Mueller continued his good form, Oriol Rosell made his debut, and Joe Bendik began to find his feet. With lots of good things to sort through from last month, here are The Mane Land’s picks for the best goal, save, and player of the month of April.
Goal of the Month: Cristian Higuita vs. Colorado Rapids
You could have scarcely picked a more unlikely winner for this award. This goal was only Higuita’s third for the club and it was a proper belter. Factor in that the goal couldn’t have come at a better time at the beginning of the second half to draw the team level, and it makes it even more impressive. It all happens so fast. Higuita takes one absolutely golden touch to set the ball for himself, then smashes it into the top corner. Just look at poor Zac MacMath, he’s already on his hands and knees in despair by the time the ball hits the net.
Higuita's strike is up for @MLS Goal of the Week.— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 30, 2018
Vote | https://t.co/gE11btkyGO pic.twitter.com/a1h6E7iv7P
Others considered were Dom Dwyer’s goal off a throw-in against the New York Red Bulls; Dwyer’s incredible individual effort to beat two defenders while spinning, falling, and getting up again to beat Portland; and Mueller’s opening goal against San Jose.
Save of the Month: Mohamad El-Munir vs. Colorado Rapids
This one received unanimous votes from our Mane Land staff. It has everything. It’s a last-ditch block that preserves a precious three points on the road in stoppage time. Yes El-Mo makes the initial mistake that let Dillon Serna in behind the defense, but he once again exhibited his remarkable recovery speed and made a spectacular block to deny a game-tying goal. You can see just how certain Serna was that he would score, as he mirrors MacMath by falling to his hands and knees in disbelief. Joe Bendik immediately goes to El-Mo and thanks him for saving the team’s bacon and rightly so. The block preserved the three points and also extended the Lions’ winning streak to five straight games.
The block that kept the lead intact! #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/O8vbhb97BB— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 29, 2018
Player of the Month: Chris Mueller
Who else would this award go to but Cash Mueller? The rookie was on quite the tear during April, with three goals and an assist through four games. It almost seemed he could do no wrong, with goals that sparked comebacks, goals that were historically fast, and one earth-shattering knee slide that nearly carried him straight out of the stadium. All in all, it was quite a strong month for Mueller and if he continues playing like this for the rest of the season then there should be smiles on a lot of faces around Orlando. The young man showed poise, skill, and passion throughout April and I for one am very excited to see what the month of May holds for him.
Four more games await this month, with all but one of them at home. Only time will tell if the team can continue its stellar April form into the next run of fixtures. Make sure to check back in at the end of the month for the next edition of our monthly awards.
How do you think we did with our picks? Agree, disagree? Have at it in the comments.