Cyle Larin (#21) has been a revelation for Orlando City SC and Canada in 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)
TORONTO -- When Cyle Larin takes the field on Friday in the first leg of a World Cup Qualifying, third-round series against visiting Belize, he will try to continue the record-breaking form that has seen him climb the ranks of CONCACAF’s top young strikers.
The match at BMO Field will be Larin’s 13th for Canada this calendar year. Coupled with 21 appearances for Orlando City SC, it has been a non-stop sprint for the rookie.
Asked if a long rookie campaign was taking a toll, Larin told CONCACAF.com, “I am adapting to the longer season and, if I take care of my body, I will be fine.”
Thanks to an explosive finishing touch, Larin has quickly become a household name in the soccer circles of Florida and Canada. His year on and off the pitch has signified the journey of a talented young athlete learning to navigate the professional game.
Larin started 2015 as a member of Rob Gale’s side that was bumped out of the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Although he didn’t find the back of the net, the 20-year-old did receive good news during that competition, being drafted first in the Major League Soccer Super Draft.
Since joining Brazilian legend Kaka in Orlando, Larin -- after a few nervous starts -- has gathered ferocious pace as the months have passed.
Scoring eleven goals in 21 appearances for the club, he now shares the MLS record for goals by a first-year professional with former Jamaica international Damani Ralph, who established in the mark in 2003 with the Chicago Fire.
While his club play is on the rise, Larin has found the going harder for Les Rogues.
In his first CONCACAF Gold Cup this past July, the Canadians were held scoreless against eventual-finalist Jamaica, El Salvador and Costa Rica, and exited the competition after the opening round.
On the heels of the experience, Larin said there is now an air optimism within the squad after camp opened Monday.
“I am in a good environment, camp and training have been good,” expressed Larin. “We will go out there, get a win and move on to the next round. The team is playing with a lot more confidence and playing with each other.”
Despite playing almost 1,500 minutes for Orlando City thus far -- and hundreds more for his country -- Larin has no plans of slowing down.
“After each game, I am exhausted from playing in so many games, but I love to do this…I love to play soccer,” he finished. “It is a dream playing at this level, so I don’t get tired of it.”