As many expected, Orlando City's Cyle Larin is the winner of the 2015 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year Award, the league announced today.
Larin beat out San Jose's Fatai Alashe and Chicago Fire midfielder Matt Polster for the honor, winning the first major MLS award in club history.
"We're delighted for Cyle to win Rookie of the Year after his incredible first season in MLS," said Head Coach Adrian Heath in a club press release. "Since he's come on board, Cyle has really made an effort to learn and grow as a professional each day, and it's certainly showed in his play on the field. His future is very bright if he continues to progress at this rate."
"I would like to thank the fans, who have been there for us all season. I wouldn't have this award if it wasn't for them," said Larin in the release. "Secondly I'd like to thank all of my teammates who have been behind me throughout the entire season and provided the assists for my goals. I'd also like to thank the entire technical staff. I don't think I'd be in this position without them giving me the opportunity and believing in me. Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone throughout the league who voted for me. This award truly means a lot to me."
The No. 1 overall pick of this past year's MLS Superdraft, Larin didn't take long to get acclimated to professional soccer. The 6-foot-2 striker found the net in the first start of his career, back on April 12 at Portland, and proceeded to score 17 goals in 27 appearances this season.
Larin's play quickly earned him a regular spot on the Canadian National Team and the attention of teams overseas and got him on the MLS Team of the Week six times.
The Canadian scored four goals in his first eight starts. Larin later would add five goals in two games, including a hat trick at NYCFC on July 26, to tie the rookie goal-scoring record. But, as the season wore on, the pressure seemed to mount on the 20-year-old and Larin's play suffered as he went on a seven-game drought without a goal.
Just as some fans and media started calling for Bryan Rochez to step in as a starter, Larin put an end to that speculation -- and the record -- with a hat trick against RBNY on Sept. 25 to shatter Damani Ralph's 2003 record. With that, Larin became the first rookie in MLS history to put up multiple hat tricks in a season.
Larin finished in a tie for fifth in the league in goals with Bradley Wright-Phillips. He finished behind only Sebastian Giovinco, Kei Kamara, David Villa and Robbie Keane. His goals per 90 minutes of 0.8 trailed only Robbie Keane and Didier Drogba this season in MLS.
In terms of the voting, Larin won in a landslide. He got 97% of the media votes, 96% of the club votes and 82% of the player votes.
Larin is also nominated for goal of the year along with fellow Lion Eric Avila.