When it was announced that Orlando City SC would be selecting number one overall at the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, I was obviously excited. I was excited because it meant that when the season started, I'd be watching one of collegiate soccer's best forwards in purple at the top of the attack, partnering up with old favorites like Kevin Molino and new favorites like Brek Shea.
I was excited because I just knew we were taking Romario Williams.
Once again, reality showed me exactly how little I know, when the name Cyle Larin came across my screen. I thought, "Who?" I gave him a Google (he's worth a Google), watched this, read that. It wasn't until seeing him play as a Lion that I began to get excited about the young Canadian out of UConn.
We saw glimpses of what he could do on April 3 against D.C. United when Larin worked hard to make himself available for service from Kaká and Molino in the same five-minute stretch at the close of the first half. Larin failed to finish those chances, but it didn't take long for him to figure out that scoring was a lot more fun than hitting the ball directly at the keeper.
Against Portland, he showed some creativity that immediately had everyone at Shine on Wall Street screaming at the top of their lungs when he decided that, since his head and boot couldn't seem to beat the keeper, he'd just use his chest, letting a Molino cross blast off him and fly between the posts for the first goal in a 2-0 Lions win.
The chest got him on the radar, but it was his outstanding form during a three-game in eleven-day stretch against respected opposition that got everyone talking.
First, there was the overlooked goal against the New England Revolution. Overlooked understandably, as it came when the Revs held a 2-0 lead late in the game when Larin was able to convert.
Then, there was the focused miracle against D.C. United on May 13 before the second half defensive meltdown that we're going to ignore.
With the ball bouncing between everyone from United players to ushers in the aisles, Larin somehow got a boot on it squarely and put it into the net with the kind of confidence that only whiskey drinking white guys seem to possess on the dance floor.
To put an exclamation point on this stretch that grabbed the league's attention, Larin ran perfectly with Kaká on the attack against the LA Galaxy, setting himself up to receive great service from one of MLS's best to score yet another goal from inside the box.
Remember those early season concerns we all had about being able to finish, being able to convert inside the box on the attack?
Our prayers have been answered in the red-hot form of Cyle Larin. My only question is how many times he beats Steve Clark this weekend in avenging that disgusting defeat we suffered in Columbus?