Cyle Larin came into 2017 ready to embark on his third season with Orlando City Soccer Club. His name has been in the mouth of many large clubs overseas, and there has been no shortage of transfer speculation. With all these rumors circulating over his head, this was a very important season for the young Canadian international. His season got off to a hot start up top for City, scoring the first goal in club history at the brand new Orlando City Stadium. However, the season after that took some definite twists and turns throughout. Let’s go ahead and take a dive into the deep end and discuss the specifics of Larin’s performance throughout the season.
At first glance this year, you might look at Larin’s statistics and say that he had his worst year with the club. Though that is a subject that is likely to be heavily debated, many of the City faithful will agree with you on that. He tallied his lowest total of goals scored in a season this year (12), and also equaled his lowest number of starts this year (24). On the upside though, he did equal his career high in assists, with three.
As stated previously, he did score 12 goals — to lead all Orlando City players — this season on 32 shots on goal, which is a conversion rate of 37.5%, which is a career low for Larin. In his rookie season his conversion percentage was about 58.6%, which was among league leaders. This drop-off may not have directly affected Orlando City’s abysmal offensive production this season, but it definitely didn’t do the team any favors. Larin did also miss out on the final games of the season due to a hip flexor issue he picked up during international duty with Canada, which may have had an effect on his final production.
Larin’s arrest for a DUI also may have had a profound effect on his 2017 production. Certainly the three games Larin missed while completing the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program was a big part of that. He had eight goals to his name at that point in the season, along with one assist. After his return, it took Larin over a month to find the back of the net again, and he was unable to regain the form and consistency that gave him success earlier in the Lions’ campaign. That shows how his off-field distractions ended up directly contributing to his on the field struggles later in the year.
On April 23, the Lions took on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium, a ground which has shown Larin a good amount of success, and this match was no different. Larin was at the top of his game, scoring two goals on four shots, drawing a boat load of fouls in dangerous areas, and out-muscling defenders left and right, on his way to winning our Man of the Match honors for his performance. This performance gave us a glimpse of what we hoped to expect for the rest of the season, as Larin displayed great hold-up play and solid distribution to the wings, and he finished with deadly precision from inside the box.
Final 2017 Grade
The staff here at The Mane Land gave Larin a composite grade of 5.5 on the year. While he did lead the team in goals and shots on goal, his severe drop-off from his previous form, coupled with his mid-season slide in the wake of his arrest and suspension caused his grade to drop. His hold-up play left something to be desired as well this year, due to poor touches causing counter attacks to be squandered and possession to be conceded.
While we cannot see into the future, one thing we do know for certain is that Cyle has voiced his desire to go and play overseas, and he even said recently that he feels as though he is ready to go, and that the time is now in his career. Larger clubs like Leeds United in England, and Besiktas in Turkey have been linked to the Canadian forward, and if these rumors are true, we may have seen the last of Larin in Orlando City purple and gold.
Other rumors that are adding fuel to the fire are reported talks between the club and Norwegian forward Jo Inge Bernet. He is similar in stature to Larin, and exhibits a similar play style, along with a winning attitude from his time spent with top Swedish team Malmo. If this is the end of Larin in Orlando, we will cherish his time with the club, as he is currently the all-time leading scorer in Orlando City history and was the Lions’ first ever SuperDraft selection. His striking prowess may dearly be missed, unless it can be replaced and if Dom Dwyer can continue the form that he finished the 2017 season with, netting four goals and adding three assists in the season’s final six games.