Cyle Larin was the clear choice for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He went on to break the league record for most goals scored by a rookie, with 17, while winning MLS Rookie of the Year.
While the Canadian has improved in almost every area since his rookie season, he has not reached those numbers again. This is largely due to the rest of the Orlando City team getting better, but also because he is often double-teamed in the final third and the opposition constantly plays physically against him, often testing the rules of the game on plays which have gone uncalled by the officials.
Since entering MLS, Larin has been Orlando’s highest goal scorer, and, aside from Kaká, the only player to consistently find the back of the net. This has led the opposition to know exactly how to defend the Lions — eliminate Larin and the attack will become stagnant. To no surprise, this strategy has worked and Orlando City has the third fewest goals scored this season.
In comes Dom Dwyer in record breaking fashion. It is obvious that Dwyer brings much to Orlando City. He has one of the best work ethics in the league, he does the dirty work, and, most importantly, he scores goals. But something else Dwyer will do, is open up the game for Larin.
No longer can teams only worry about defending the Canadian, or Dom will make them pay for it. Dwyer causes the opposition to focus on him, freeing up Larin to have more time on the ball. An example of this is Kaká’s goal from the 1-1 draw in Atlanta.
While the strike by Kaká was fantastic, look at the run from Dwyer. Anton Walkes and Michael Parkhurst both sit back a little to cover Dwyer, which leaves Larin one-on-one with Jeff Larentowicz. Larin then has enough room to trap and play the ball off to Kaká.
While this is not the best example, as the strike from Kaká was sublime, in previous games Larin would have had two defenders on him or just have been hit from the back. With Dwyer right there, and his reputation for getting after every ball, the opposition now must be more cautious.
This will become even more of a threat as Dwyer gets more training sessions in with his new teammates, and becomes familiar with Jason Kreis’ system. Dwyer will continue to draw the attention of the defenders, leaving Larin more time and space. With eight goals through Orlando City’s first 22 games of the season, Larin may not have enough time in 2017 to break his goal-scoring record. However, he could go on a run now, and, if he returns, look for next year to be his best statistical year as a pro.
With the Lions currently one place out of the playoff picture, the Dwyer-Larin duo could be what the team needs to finally make the postseason.