Orlando City has been reliant upon Cyle Larin to bear the brunt of its scoring burden in 2017. This isn’t new, as we’ve discussed Larin’s scoring here recently and not as recently. The Canadian has been the Lions’ go-to scorer almost since the day he was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
With a strike partner more suited to setting up others than scoring himself, and the team’s secondary goal scorer getting injured 10 minutes into the season, Larin has never borne so much of the heavy lifting in his three-year career.
The numbers say that Larin is the most heavily relied-upon striker in MLS, having accounted for half of Orlando City’s goals on the season. In the early season — when he scored six goals in the first six games at a rate of 1.03 per 90 minutes — that reliance seemed to be working out just fine, with Orlando cruising to a historically good start. Kaká’s absence was hardly even felt.
However, lately — with Orlando winless in its last five and Larin only managing one goal over his last six outings — the need for the Ontario native to produce goals has looked too great at times, even though his captain has chipped in three goals during the team’s skid.
Larin isn’t the only scorer to be counted upon to produce a large portion of his team’s overall scoring. As the chart below reflects, Larin is one of 17 players to register at least six goals through Week 12, and he’s one of six in MLS responsible for at least 40% of a club’s total goals.
Percentage of Goals Responsible For
|Player (Team)||Goals||% of Team Goals|
|Player (Team)||Goals||% of Team Goals|
|Cyle Larin (ORL)||7||50%|
|Nemanja Nikolic (CHI)||10||47.60%|
|Max Urruti (DAL)||6||42.90%|
|CJ Sapong (PHI)||8||42.10%|
|Erick Torres (HOU)||9||40.90%|
|Romain Alessandrini (LA)||6||40%|
|Christian Ramirez (MIN)||7||38.80%|
|David Villa (NYC)||8||36.40%|
|Justin Meram (CLB)||7||35%|
|Ola Kamara (CLB)||7||35%|
|Ignacio Piatti (MTL)||6||33.30%|
|Juan Agudelo (NE)||6||30%|
|David Accam (CHI)||6||28.60%|
|Jozy Altidore (TOR)||6||28.60%|
|Sebastian Giovinco (TOR)||6||28.60%|
|Diego Valeri (POR)||6||27.20%|
|Fanendo Adi (POR)||6||27.20%|
While you’d like to see a more even distribution of goals across the team (and more than 14 total), which would probably mean teammates like Carlos Rivas and co. are faring better around Larin, the Lions would actually be in better position in the table right now (we’ll get to the long-term in a moment) if the Canadian’s numbers were more lopsided.
Consider opportunities that Larin has (uncharacteristically) missed in recent weeks — a pair of short-range chances at Toronto that combined to miss by inches that could’ve won or tied the game, and a potentially momentum-shifting penalty banged off the crossbar vs. NYCFC on Sunday. Had Larin converted those three chances, he’d be sitting at 10 goals individually and Orlando would be on 17 as a team, which would give him 58.8% of the total goals while putting the Lions higher in the Eastern Conference table from points that could’ve resulted from those scores (Orlando would’ve taken three points from those two chances in Toronto and had a chance at one vs. NYC with that penalty).
With very few exceptions, carrying half of a club’s scoring load isn’t sustainable for an entire season. Even if he scores 20 this year, at 50% of the team total that would put the Lions at just 40 goals, fewer than any East team managed in 2016 and likely well out of reach of the playoffs.
Only twice has a Golden Boot winner maintained a scoring burden like Larin’s and carried his team to the postseason. One was Bradley Wright-Phillips for Red Bulls in 2014, when he scored 27 of the club’s 55 goals (49%) en route to fourth place in the East. That’s a Herculean feat from BWP that matches the MLS single-season record, and he had more support (0.82 goals per game from non-BWP players) than Larin is currently getting (0.58 per match from Lions not named Larin). Chris Wondolowski scored 53% of San Jose’s goals while winning the boot in 2010, but the Quakes were the last team into the postseason and were shut out in their only playoff match.
Otherwise, we saw Wright-Phillips carry 40% of NYRB’s scoring load last year on the way to the No. 1 spot in the East, while David Villa scored 37.1% of NYC’s goals en route to the No. 2 seed. Sebastian Giovinco scored 38% of Toronto’s goals (and created another 31.4% with assists, to illustrate the absurdity of his campaign) in his MVP 2015 season, while Kei Kamara did the same for No. 2 seed Columbus that year. so teams led by a high-volume scorer can make it to the promised land, but these figures are still a full 10-12% below Larin’s current consignment.
Whether Larin is able to lead a postseason run for Orlando will depend on the kind of scoring assistance he gets, the type of defense City plays, or if he can just be that damn good to the point that it won’t matter, which the figures above suggest would mean something close to or above the current single-season goals record. More sensibly, the Lions need a sustained uptick from their main supporters in attack like Kaká — who must stay healthy — and Rivas, while additional contributors must arise to fill the production gap left by Kevin Molino’s departure in the off-season.