In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from world football. In this edition he profiles Orlando City and Canadian striker Cyle Larin.
In 2007, Cyle Larin’s footballing adventure started at the age of 11 when he joined the academy of Sigma FC, where he spent time training with German clubs Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin.
After graduating from Sigma, the strong, 6ft 2ins striker went on to make waves in the college leagues, starring for the University of Connecticut. In his first season, he rippled the opposition’s net 14 times in 23 games – an impressive start for the freshman.
In his second season, he added a further nine goals to his name in 16 appearances. This form was key in securing Larin’s place as the number one pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
After snubbing reported interest from Europe, Larin decided his professional career would begin in America and on he went into the MLS SuperDraft.
Orlando City, in their first year in the MLS, had first pick in the draft and selected the striker, making Larin the first ever Canadian to be drafted first overall. Following on from the pick, Adrian Heath, coach at Orlando, hoped for a positive progression in Larin’s career, declaring: “Goal scorers, if he can translate what he has been doing in college into the pros, they generally go for a lot of money and become very, very valuable. We liked him, we’ve got him and I’m just looking forward to working with him.”
Set for a role as a squad player with the objective to develop into a first-team starter in the future, the bench was his expected spot for the season, featuring only sporadically over the course of the campaign.
However, with injuries hitting those ahead of him early on in the year, Larin had the opportunity to outshine all expectations and went on to produce possibly the best breakthrough season performance by a rookie in the league’s 20-year history.
In just 27 appearances, the Canadian scored 17 times for the Lions, averaging a goal every 1.6 games. On top of this, he deservedly earned the accolade of MLS Rookie of the Year award.
His finest game for Orlando came in their fixture against MLS big guns New York Red Bulls, scoring a hat-trick in the Lions’ 5-2 victory, which you can view below. On top of his attacking display, Larin received plaudits for his hold-up play and his passing display, completing 83.3% of his attempted passes during the game.
Internationally, Larin made his debut for Canada in 2014 in a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria, coming on as a substitute in the second half. Featuring 14 times for his country, he has scored four times, three of which have come in The Canucks’ 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
What the experts say
Orlando coach Adrian Heath: “Cyle is already well on the way to a great career. The most pleasing thing is that he is taking the things we work on from Monday to Friday on the training field into games with him. If he avoids injury, the sky’s the limit for him.”
Sigma FC technical director Bobby Smyrniotis: “Clubs overseas would ask, ‘Can he play at the next level?’ And there was never any doubt in my mind. He has the intangibles and the mentality to stay humble about the game and to succeed in it.”
Where does the future lie?
Interest is high in Larin, especially in Europe, with possible destinations touted in Germany, Belgium and England, including a Premier League side according to reports.
Orlando, however, remain hopeful that his immediate future will be at the Citrus Bowl, with former Lions general manager Paul McDonough declaring that the club are relaxed on the Canadian’s future.
“We will take all these things as they come,” he said. “It is not a bad situation to be in. We would love to say we knew it would work out like this the day we drafted him, but you have to give a lot of credit to the kid himself and the coaches.
“The hard part is he now needs to build on what he has started, but he is very level-headed and Adrian [Heath] works really well with strikers, so it is a good environment for him to continue in.”
If Larin continues his form into next season’s MLS campaign, we will be sure to see the striker cross over the pond to continue his development in the near future.
By Daniel Roberts, @djroberts22