Editors Note: These are just a handful of many great performances by Orlando City players this season. Who could forget Kaká's goal and assist performance in Montreal, Adrian Winter's brace against Sporting Kansas City, or Carlos Rivas' stunning perforamnce against the Red Bulls. It was a tough list to narrow down, so let us know some of your favorite performances from the season in the comments below.
Honorable Mention- Aurélien Collin leads Orlando City to victory over New England
On May 8th at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, Aurélien Collin turned in one of his best games as a Lion. The French defender controlled the back line clearing nearly everything sent into the box. After New England found a late goal, it seemed the Lions would fall to the Revs. However, Collin wasn’t going to allow that to happen. In the 89th minute, the crowd exploded as Lions left back Luke Boden crossed the ball into the box to Collin, who headed it home to preserve a 2-2 draw.
#5- Lewis Neal shines at defensive-mid against D.C. United
With Darwin Cerén unavailable for play in the June 14th matchup against D.C. United, Lewis Neal stepped in for the Lions in an unfamiliar role in the defensive midfield. Head Coach Adrian Heath was thrilled with his performance. “He was fantastic this evening. For a guy who’s only had five - six weeks out. For him to have had a week’s training to play like that is outstanding. He’s a really good footballer. He understands the game as much as anyone in this football club. You could play him anywhere on the field and he gets it. He knows what’s expected of him and he’s technically very, very good. He’s a player’s player. Everyone in this football club likes playing with him. He’s just a top player.”
Neal’s play at defensive midfielder that night was a huge factor in the clean sheet and victory.
#4- Tally Hall holds Chicago scoreless on the road
On September 19th In Chicago, Orlando City was in need of a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. With Kennedy Igboananike and David Accam threatening all night, it was a difficult task for the Lions to keep them off the score sheet. Fortunately, Tally Hall was up for the task. He had four key saves in the match and was the emotional leader on the night. Hall kept a clean sheet, and the Lions were able to leave Chicago with a 1-0 victory. It was the second victory of Orlando City’s five game win streak at the end of the season.
#3- Cyle Larin scores a second half brace against NYCFC
In the second-to-last game of the season, the Lions faced-off against New York City FC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl needing a win to keep their season alive. After going down 1-0 late in the first half, Cyle Larin came out of the locker room for the second 45 determined to change the game.
In the 62nd minute, Larin was able to glance a header home off of a cross from Corey Ashe. Only eight minutes later, he netted his second goal, putting the Lions on their way to securing a massive three points.
#2- Pedro Ribeiro defies odds at Houston
In their first road match in MLS history, Orlando City traveled west to take on the Houston Dynamo. In a match that was gridlocked at 0-0 for the majority of the match, Coach Heath inserted Pedro Ribeiro late in the second half to jumpstart the attack.
In the 74th minute, the ball was passed back to Dynamo Goalkeeper, Tyler Deric. Deric took a heavy touch on the ball, and with a quick reaction, Ribeiro was able to block the clearance by Deric and the ball bounced back into the net as Ribeiro blocked Deric from getting back to it. "He chose to try to hold on to the moving train and that didn’t work,” said former Lions goalkeeper, Donovan Ricketts. Solely because of the Brazilians hustle, the Lions took home three points and their first MLS victory.
#1- Cyle Larin scores a hat trick against NYCFC and RBNY
Twice this season Cyle Larin put in world class performances.
On the road against NYCFC Larin caught fire in the second half, scoring a hat trick against a stingy NYCFC defense. Goals in the minutes 50’, 61’, and 85’ kept Orlando City in a high scoring affair at Yankee stadium.
His next match in the Big Apple (well, New Jersey technically) resulted in another hat trick for the rookie. His first goal of the match gave him the MLS rookie scoring record, surpassing Damani Ralph’s previous mark of 11. Coach Adrian Heath couldn’t have been more impressed, “In the Big Apple, under the lights, on television, he likes the games. I was pleased for him, it's been weighing on his shoulders a little bit so to come out and give the performance he did, I thought it was a couple of great finishes as well so, delighted for him.”