Joining Orlando City by way of the number one overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, out of the University of Connecticut, Cyle Larin joined Adrian Heath's squad with expectations of growing slowly into the starting role behind Designated Player Bryan Rochez and veterans Martin Paterson and Danny Mwanga.
Of course, since Kid Fantastic is an Orlando City Lion, he chose to #DefyExpectations en route to winning the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year award.
After being called into the starting lineup in early April, Larin immediately set the tone for what would be a prolific season, amassing four goals by the end of May. Larin was well on his way to setting an MLS rookie season record with 17 goals on the year in 1,906 minutes across 27 appearances to finish sixth overall in MLS.
That nose for the net came with a price, however, as Larin was caught offside 0.9 times per game, also good for sixth in the league. He managed to draw just 1.1 fouls per game; his inexperience showed when eyeing the nuances of the game.
With just 0.4 key passes per game and completing just 72.7 percent of his tries, Larin doesn't statistically hold up as an elite all-around striker quite yet. While proving to be an effective poacher in his historic rookie campaign, he'll need to improve on the ball to continue growing as a player.
What a joy it was to look back at so many glorious Kid Fantastic highlights, watching goal after goal, while settling on what was his best game. His hat trick against New York City FC was good, but came in a losing effort. The nod, then, goes to his other hat trick against New York Red Bulls.
This game saw some of the best runs off the ball from Cyle all year, exploiting weak defending as if he were some sort of rookie phenom determined to set MLS records.
It wasn't just his golden toe that sets this match apart -- he was efficient in the passing game, completing 83.3 percent of his tries and registering two key passes, while leading City to the 5-2 win.
2016 Season Outlook
While following a 17-goal campaign is never easy, one has to be encouraged with the way Larin held up down the stretch in his rookie year, scoring six goals across the final four matches. He effectively obliterated the notion that he wouldn't be able to withstand the professional grind.
A big, strong, physical athlete with some fantastic tools with which to work, Larin will need to improve his play on the ball to turn his historic rookie campaign into a historic MLS career.
Final 2015 Rating
The Mane Land staff settled into a 7.5 grade for Cyle Larin, solidifying his status as one of the most impressive players on Inchy's squad in its inaugural MLS season. Able to use his frame in the box and shoot with power from distance, it would appear Larin is just getting started on an impressive career in the City Beautiful.