Cyle Larin has exploded on to the scene over the past 15 months. The Brampton native made his Canada debut as a 19-year-old – despite having never represented his country at youth level – and scored in both legs of the 6-0 aggregate thrashing of Dominica, which propelled the Canucks into the third round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Larin rejected English Premier League and German Bundesliga interest to become the first overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The striker has since repaid Orlando City SC’s trust by scoring 11 times in 15 appearances.
“When I first came to Orlando I was star-struck,” Larin told ExtraTime Radio in reference to the Japan/Korea 2002 and FIFA World Player of the Year winner. “But not now. He’s my friend, he’s a great guy, he’s a very humble guy.
“It’s a great experience to play with him. On and off the field, he helps me a lot. I watch how he plays so we can connect more and score goals.
“[It’s about] being in the right positions, being right on to him, so when the ball comes I’m ready for it, because you never know when it’s coming. I make sure I’m in the right spots [for him] to get it to me and to get it back to him. You saw in the last game the one-twos we were playing.”
Larin had training spells at Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg and Club Brugge. Despite interest from esteemed clubs in Germany and England, however, he chose to to begin his professional career in the USA.
“It was because of the new teams that are still coming into the league, and the very good coaches they have here. And I felt very comfortable here, that I could develop here and make an impact in MLS.
“I made the right decision. I came to a great place. Adrian Heath is a great coach and is teaching me a lot. That was my final decision: to start a new journey with a new team. We have a great team and great coaches, and I think we can go far.”
Orlando beat Columbus Crew 5-2 on Saturday to leave themselves outside the play-off positions on goal difference. Larin’s double during that match left him four goals shy of MLS 2015’s leading marksman, Kei Kamara, who drew a blank at the Citrus Bowl.
“At half-time during the game Kei Kamara told me, ‘You’re trying to catch up to me'. I thought that was funny. I know where I stand in the rankings, but I’m just focused on winning games with my team. Whether I score or I don’t score, I just want to win with my team and have a good season.
"When I first came in I expected to work hard and do what I had to do to get in the line-up. It’s a lot different from what I expected, but I took my opportunity and I’m doing well with it.”
After spending 17 years in Ontario and two in Connecticut, Larin is loving life in ‘The City Beautiful’. “I live with my room-mate Pedro Ribeiro,” he said. “He’s a great guy, a good guy to be around. I live in a two-storey apartment. It’s nice, it’s nice and warm, it has a pool, a nice complex. I love it down here – it’s very relaxing, a good place to be.”