After going through the first month undefeated, Orlando City struggled a bit through April. Starting the month off with a convincing win over the Portland Timbers, the Lions dropped a heartbreaker in Philadelphia, drew against New England, lost in New Jersey and drew again against the Revolution. Although they have dropped points, the Lions have managed to score in every match this season.
As the calendar is set to turn to May, 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: Brek Shea vs. Portland Timbers
In what could be in contention for Goal of the Season for Orlando City, Brek Shea’s rocket against the defending MLS Cup champions is our goal of April.
After getting the ball on the left wing and stumbling a bit, Shea was able to play a nice one-two with Kaká, get the ball in the box, curl the ball off the outside of his foot and rocket it into the top right corner of the net. This was Shea’s first club goal since his days at FC Dallas back in 2012, and what a goal it was.
Save of the Month: Joe Bendik on Mike Grella vs. New York Red Bulls
For the second month in a row, the Save of the Month comes against a team with New York in the name. Last month Joe Bendik stonewalled Mix Diskerud to maintain the Lions’ only shutout of the season so far. This month, however, the save came in the team’s second loss of the year, this one at the hands of the Red Bulls.
At the brink of halftime after an Orlando turnover, Grella got his foot on a cross from the right wing and volleyed it towards goal. Bendik was able to make a great reaction save and push the ball away to be cleared by one of his defenders, maintaining the clean sheet through the first half before NYRB would eventually win the decisive second half.
Player of the Month: Joe Bendik
Bendik has been a brick wall in goal over this past month. He has almost single-handedly kept the Lions in games, making 19 saves out of a possible 30 shots on goal, but has allowed two goals per game during April. Although the numbers don't tell the full story, Bendik has done all he can with an at times shaky back line and midfield, and he has proven that he was worth the preseason signing.
Also receiving votes: midfielder Adrian Winter, who has been impressive in his starts for the Lions. His constant motor and creativity have been crucial in setting up goals and giving Orlando a much-needed consistent winger that can play 90 minutes if needed.
The Lions are coming off a disappointing April, but the team is still in good shape heading into this month. Check back at the end of May for our next installment of The Mane Land monthly awards.
Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts for each category in the comments section.