Cyle Larin’s 2017 season has started strong, with his three goals in two games carrying Orlando City during these Kaká-less times. It’s not a surprise that Larin is a key player for the team, but he has also become a cornerstone for Head Coach Jason Kreis. We can see this based off of the new acquisitions to the club and the way the team has played, and build the team, since the ex-New York City FC coach arrived in Orlando.
Kreis came to the Lions on July 19, 2016. In his first 16 games at the helm of the club, Larin has scored seven goals. If we look at what has changed in the squad, we can see some add-ons and some players changing position to support the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year and 2016 MLS All-Star. From the experience point-of-view, the team added Will Johnson and Jonathan Spector, and even though they don’t play too close to where Larin is in the field, having these types of players together alongside Antonio Nocerino and Kaká takes a lot of pressure away from the 21-year-old striker. These four guys have played for great teams and have faced some tremendous pressure — moments that have built them to be the leaders the team needs now.
Then we need to move to the player positional changes since Kreis joined the team alongside the noteworthy transitions made during preseason. One great move we must acknowledge and contribute to Jason’s masterclass is the placement of Carlos Rivas close to Cyle in a striker partnership and adding a winger like Matias Perez Garcia as a second play-maker for the team (with Kaká out, he is the main guy to create plays now).
Also, Nocerino has been placed in a midfield position that allows him to reach the opponent’s box more often than last year, which has contributed a lot with how Larin moves inside the box without much need to step out to find the ball. Will Johnson has been filling in at right back, but as a DM, he’ll help the team on the defensive side and helps create pressure and close the distance between the back line and the attacking players.
If there is anything Kreis is still remembered for at Real Salt Lake, it’s for developing young talent. With Larin’s growth as a top player alongside Pierre da Silva’s rise to the first team, it’s significantly clear that player development is highly valued by Kreis.
Larin is being followed continuously by Premier League teams like Everton. Let’s remember that in 2015, before he penned a deal with MLS to sign as a Generation Adidas player, he received an offer from the EPL. This season will be the one to determine the caliber of player Larin will be for Orlando City. The potential for greatness is there and he is outperforming the other strikers between ages 20 to 23.
At age 21, Clint Dempsey scored 25 goals for the New England Revolution in the 2004-2006 seasons. At the same age, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku scored 21 goals during the 2012-2014 season. Now our Canadian striker has 34 goals in just over two seasons. Looking at his numbers we can see that the talent is there.
But Orlando will (and should) be reluctant to sell. Take into account that the team has shifted players and changed tactics to play around Larin, which makes it clear that the organization wants to make use of his skills and cares about his development. Orlando City is investing in Cyle, whose goals have created some great momentum for the team. Let’s enjoy the show while Cyle Larin is a Lion.