While many footballers in North America yearn for the opportunity to hone his skills, Cyle Larin was fortunate enough to enjoy a youth club that allowed him to train with German clubs Werder BremenHertha Berlin and Wolfsburg. Larin enjoyed a very successful college career at UCONN, scoring 17 goals in 30 appearances for the ACC side. His fantastic rookie season saw him winning Freshman of the Year as well as being named to the ACC All-Rookie Team. This led to him being the first overall pick in the 2015 MLS Superdraft by Orlando City SC. Larin has earned his spot in the Canadian national team and is widely regarded as the best player in that team at just 21 years of age. Larin is a very old-fashioned center forward, the type of number nine who uses his body to his advantage. The Canadian made his professional debut on March 21, 2015 for Orlando against Vancouver, and he hasn’t looked back.

As stated earlier, Cyle Larin is an old-fashioned center forward, who uses his height to his advantage. While being able to score headers in the box is a very valuable asset, he is not limited to that. Larin is a very good finisher; one on one with the keeper, Larin never seems to miss. But he isn’t just a poacher, and his jack-of-all-trades shot selection scares defenders the most. In fact, he can do it all in one game. For example, in Larin’s rookie season, he bagged a hat trick vs NYCFC, picking up his first by dribbling around a defender and having a cool enough head to put it past Josh Saunders. Larin grabbed a second goal after losing his marker in the box and tapping one in to the net, and a third after picking out the top corner of the goal from about 18 yards out. This hat trick made him the second youngest in MLS history, nearly breaking the MLS record for youngest to score a hat trick. Fortunately for him, he was able to break a record in his rookie season. Larin scored the most goals as a rookie in MLS history, which is what allowed him to win 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year. He then started off 2016 with a very good performance vs Real Salt Lake. In the 4th minute of added time, Cyle Larin scored to bring his club to within one goal before grabbing the eventual equalizing assist one minute later.

While Larin scored less goals in 2016, he definitely developed his overall game. Larin grabbed 3 assists in the 2016 MLS season which is more than his rookie season and also found himself involved more in link up play. Larin is very good with his back to goal; he can hold the ball up and allow his team time to get forward. It is a testament to his strength that he is able to outmuscle center backs for 90 minutes. The improvement of Larin’s game led to offers from Benfica in 2016, and it seemed as if a transfer was bound to happen before Larin expressed his desire to stay with Orlando City SC. Cyle scored 14 goals in his second MLS season and added 3 assists. Larin completed 18 key passes as a number nine in 2016 and nearly doubled his chances created from 2015 to 2016. The 21-year-old also completed more take ons in 2016 than he had in the previous season. Larin decided to cut weight in the offseason leading up to the 2017 MLS season in hopes of becoming quicker. It seems to have paid off for him as he has managed to score 3 goals in his clubs opening 3 games including a fantastic goal vs. Philadelphia. With 31 goals in 56 MLS starts, the Canadian shows no signs of slowing down.

While all of this attracted clubs such as Benfica, PSV, AZ, Corinthians, and a few German clubs in the 2017 January transfer window, Larin decided to stay put in Orlando. In fact, he says he uses the transfer news as motivation and will be focused to score more goals. Larin’s teammate Kaka, stated “Cyle is a very good player and the third season for us will be great, but I think Cyle can play in a big team in Europe as well.” Kaka seems to believe in the kid. Even though Larin has said he is focused on scoring for Orlando, it did not stop offers from coming in at the beginning of the 2017 MLS season.

In March, Everton, from the blue side of Merseyside are hoping to sign the young Canadian. This may be a possible Lukaku replacement as the Belgian striker recently rejected the club’s most recent contract offer. Larin plays a very similar game to Lukaku and would fit Koeman’s system well. Another reason why Everton might be the right decision for Larin is because of the opportunities Koeman always seems to give his young talents. While Larin continues to state that he fully intends to stay with Orlando, it seems almost inevitable that he moves to Europe at some point in 2017 making him one of the highest profile MLS exports in the history of the league.

Strengths

Aerial Duels

Finishing

Strength

Weaknesses

Pace

Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

By: @JayStucchio