Cyle Larin finally got doused with water on Wednesday night in Toronto, failing to score a goal for the first time in three matches and ending an insane hot streak that saw him net five times in his previous two outings.
It has been fun to watch Larin's progression throughout the season, as the work he's putting in on the practice field has been paying dividends in game for the first-year striker out of UConn. While Larin doesn't lead Major League Soccer in scoring – that distinction belongs to the man who torched the Lions in Toronto, Sebastian Giovinco – he has been one of the league's most efficient scorers, which is why he is currently sitting jointly atop the MLS all-time scoring list for rookies.
Alex Olshansky of MLSsoccer.com illustrated Larin's effectiveness prior to Wednesday's match at Toronto, highlighting the Canadian's incredible average in non-penalty kick goals per 90 minutes played. While Wednesday's goalless outing saw his average in that department drop from 0.95 to 0.87, that mark still tops the league as it stands heading into Saturday.
The quality of that statistic is put into context when compared to other notable strikers like Kei Kamara (0.69) and Obafemi Martins (0.68). Larin is outscoring some of the league's elite forwards in non-penalty goals, and he is doing it with great efficiency.
Larin's 11 goals have come on just 44 total shots this season, a conversion rate of 25%. The league average as of Aug. 4, per Olshansky, was 14.15%, and Robbie Keane is the only other player currently in the MLS's top five in scoring who can match that rate. Keane, however, has converted four of his 10 goals from the penalty spot, whereas Larin is yet to attempt such a shot due to captain Kaká handling PK duties. Giovinco's conversion rate is 13.1%, while Kamara and David Villa are hovering around 15%, and only Kamara has yet to attempt a penalty kick out of that trio.
In fact, only Keane and New England's Charlie Davies can match Larin's 25% conversion rate league-wide among players who have taken more than 35 shots this season.
Larin's overall conversion rate received a boost during his recent scorching-hot run, where he put five in the back of the net on just 11 shots, a conversion rate of just over 45%. The Canadian generated those five scores on seven shots on goal in those matches, which is a rate that we can't realistically expect him to keep up.
But, while his conversion rate may dip back a bit closer to the league's average, Larin can keep his conversion rate among the best in MLS by continuing to make great runs at goal that have produced easy finishes in or around the six-yard box, like we saw against Portland, LA, Colorado, Columbus and NYCFC. While Larin has slotted home a few scorchers this season from distance – precise finishes from range come to mind on goals at D.C., Chicago and NYC – he has used his movement to set up easy finishes in front of goal on crosses from teammates numerous times, which are the type of shots that will keep a conversion rate high.
Larin will take another shot at clinching sole possession of the rookie record tonight against Philadelphia, and hopefully the young forward can continue to improve while remaining as efficient as he has been this season.