Orlando City fans were certainly excited when the team took Cyle Larin as the number one pick in the 2015 SuperDraft. However, there was no way of knowing for certain if his potential would turn into actual production. After a season where Cyle rightly won the Rookie of the Year award, and destroyed the previous rookie scoring record, we don't have to wonder anymore. It was a very good first season, but how does it stack up against the other forwards that earned the MLS Rookie of the Year award?
There are five forwards that have won the award:
2001 - Rodrigo Faria (Brazil), New York MetroStars (now Red Bulls)
Faria started his youth career with the Flamengo and Vasco de Gama systems in Brazil. He went to Concordia College in New York, and was selected 13th overall by the New York MetroStars. He won the Rookie of the Year award while tying the previous rookie scoring record with eight goals. In his second year, he increased his goal total to 12, but after being traded away from New York and playing for both the Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes, Faria was cut following the 2003 season.
2003 - Damani Ralph (Jamaica), Chicago Fire
Ralph started with Harbour View F.C. and St. George's College in Jamaica, and came to the U.S. to go to the University of Connecticut. He was selected 18th overall by the Chicago Fire, and also won the Rookie of the Year award by beating the previous rookie scoring record with 11 goals. He matched that total in his second year, but had an eye on a European transfer the entire time. He finally secured a deal and went to play for three years in Russia for FC Rubin Kazan. Ralph also scored the game winner of the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
2011 - C.J. Sapong (USA), Sporting KC
Sapong, a Virginia native, played his college ball at James Madison University. He was All-Conference and Offensive MVP every year he played, and was selected 10th overall by Sporting K.C.. Despite only scoring five goals, he narrowly took the Rookie of the Year award, edging out Perry Kitchen and Michael Farfan. He is currently playing for the Philadelphia Union.
2014 - Tesho Akindele (Canada), FC Dallas
Though Canadian by birth, Tesho moved to Colorado when he was eight. After turning down an offer to join the Colorado Rapids Academy, he played his college ball at Colorado School of Mines. Akindele garnered many awards in his time at school, and also was the first to score three consecutive hat tricks for his university. Tesho was selected sixth overall by FC Dallas, becoming the highest drafted Division II player in MLS history. He was awarded the Rookie of the Year for a seven goal season.
2015 - Cyle Larin (Canada), Orlando City
Our favorite Canadian joined the Sigma FC academy of the Ontario Soccer League before becoming the second player on this list to attend the University of Connecticut. Larin garnered many awards, including having the sixth highest goal total in NCAA his freshman year with 14 goals in 23 appearances. In January 2015 he signed a Generation Adidas contract, and was selected first overall by Orlando City Soccer Club. We all watched what he did after that, but it's worth mentioning that he shattered the rookie scoring record with 17 goals on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
By The Numbers
Now that the history is out of the way, how did Cyle stack up stats-wise? Let's take a look.
|Rodrigo Faria||NY MetroStars||21||11||1344||8||2||55||30||2||0||0||0|
|Damani Ralph||Chicago Fire||25||22||1982||11||6||91||36||1||0||1||1|
|C.J. Sapong||Sporting KC||34||22||2096||5||5||53||25||0||0||0||0|
|Tesho Akindele||FC Dallas||26||18||1748||7||3||30||16||2||0||0||0|
|Cyle Larin||Orlando City||27||24||1906||17||0||64||29||0||1||0||0|
With a quick bit of math, we can see how these strikers (the guys who are paid to score) did in comparison.
As we can see, Cyle not only had the most goals, he also had the best percentage of goals/shots on goal, and goals/total shots taken. Each of these players won the Rookie of the Year. Three of them had all or part of the rookie scoring record. Cyle had it all, and beat everyone by the numbers. And of course our purple hearts!
While none of the players on this list had an extremely successful second year, here's hoping that Cyle can avoid the sophomore slump and help lead Orlando City to a successful 2016 season.