Cyle Larin (white jersey) is key to Canada's hopes of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
OTTAWA, Canada – Fast-rising striker Cyle Larin is focused on delivering a result for Canada when it hosts Honduras in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on November 13 in Vancouver.
For the first-year Orlando City SC standout, the match represents a key step on the journey to Russia 2018.
“It is very important for me to play for Canada,” said Larin, who set a new Major League Soccer record this season for most goals scored by a rookie with 17 in 27 games. “It’s important to show that soccer is growing in Canada and that we can make it to the next round in these matches.
“We want to show we’re a great soccer country.”
Larin is doing his part to lead Canada’s footballing resurgence, justifying his selection as the number one draft pick in the MLS Super Draft earlier this year out of the University of Connecticut. He netted six times in his last four outings to finish fifth on the MLS goals list.
Two tallies during Canada’s current World Cup Qualifying campaign (both v Dominica) have enhanced the value of his stock.
“It’s been good for me in my first year to score so many goals,” Larin expressed. “At the beginning of the season the level was new to me, but once I got my opportunity to play I started scoring. Now it’s time to focus on more goals to help my national team.”
Despite his successes, Larin has experienced some setbacks. In July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, Larin and Canada failed to advance past the first round, acquiring only one point from three games without finding the back of the net.
The 20-year-old, however, has already moved way beyond that competition.
“It doesn’t play on my mind,” he remarked. “We played against very good teams and now I know what to expect. I have to finish the chances I get. It was a great experience and, hopefully, we can get better next Gold Cup.”
Before then, however, there’s the matter of the upcoming fourth round of World Cup Qualifying, where the Canadians will compete against El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico in Group A. The first- and second-place teams will join the winners and runners-up from the other two groups in the six-team final round.
Canada has not qualified for a World Cup finals since 1986 in Mexico, a trend that Larin would like to change.