Former Husky, Cyle Larin, gains recognition in the MLS

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush, right, makes a save in front of teammate midfielder Wandrille Lefevre, center, and Orlando City's Cyle Larin, left, during the first half of an MLS soccer game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

Cyle Larin came to UConn as a freshman the fall of 2013 from St. Edmund Campion High School in Brampton Ontario. His performance during that first season showed he was made to achieve greatness.

In that first season Larin was named rookie of the year in the American Athletic Conference. He also earned a spot on the NSCAA All Northeast Second team and a spot in the Soccer American All-freshman team.

Larin was also named best freshman of the year and conference rookie of the week three times throughout the season.

He finished the season with 14 goals, five game winning goals and three assist.

Just three years later, Larin is ending his second season in the Major League Soccer with Orlando City after being named rookie of the year his first season and was recently named No. 1 player in the 24 under 24 presented by EA Sports, a list that ranks the best 24 players under the age of 24.

Larin’s presence is impressive and at the age of 21, he has accomplished what most kids that plays soccer hope to do one day: make soccer their professional career.

For Larin, his personal accomplishments are not a big deal. He remains humble and hungry to keep improving.

“I want to keep doing good things, trying to get better every day and keep scoring,” Larin said.

UConn men’s soccer coach Ray Reid, who has been in charge of the team for 20 seasons, said that Larin was a special player during his time at UConn.

“It’s no surprise to anyone at UConn that Cyle Larin has been named to the MLS’ Top 24 under 24 list,” Reid said in a statement. “He is an incredible competitor on and off the field and represented our program to the highest level during his two standout season at Storrs.”

Larin’s time at Storrs was short but in his two seasons he made noise and attracted the MLS. He ended up being the first round pick in 2015 MLS Draft by newly formed club Orlando City.

“I think it (the program at UConn) helped me a lot. Ray likes to get things to done. When I was there he kept me on task, making sure I did my school work and making sure that I performed,” Larin said.

During his second season at UConn, Larin finished with 21 points and nine goals. He was named the AAC Offensive Player of the year among other recognitions.

“Coach Reid taught me discipline and the environment there (at UConn) is very professional and that helped me transition into the MLS,” Larin said.

In his first season playing for Orlando, Larin scored a record-breaking 17 goals, the most for any rookie in the league. He also scored two hat-tricks (three goals scored by one player during a match) against New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls.

This season, Larin has scored 14 goals so far and given three assists.

Larin’s career seems to be moving at a fast pace. He was in college for two season and after two seasons in the MLS there have been rumors about crossing the Atlantic and playing in European soccer.

Larin prefers to live day by day and focus on the next game and not get distracted.

“Right now I’m focused on the two games left,” Larin said. “I love playing for Orlando. It’s been a good time here and when the time comes, it’ll be a different time. Right now I want to get the job done here,” he said.

The technical staff that chose him as the best player under 24 said that Larin is ready for European soccer and he would fit perfectly there 

“The combination of speed, size, strength, the timing of his runs in the box, he’s a handful. He checks every box, and I think you’ll see him be scooped up by a team in Europe soon, just because everyone wants a striker that is built like him, has the skill set that he has, has the attributes that he has and can score goals,” one of the technical staff members wrote.

Although Larin said he was not ready to make the jump to European soccer, he said there a lot of great teams out there.

“Arsenal is a great team, I like the way they play and would be a good team to play for. And everyone likes to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid, there a lot of great teams,” Larin said.

Larin’s second to last game was against the Philadelphia Union, home to former Husky goalkeeper, Andre Blake, the No.1 overall pick of the 2014 MLS Draft.

Larin still keeps up with UConn soccer and with some of his former teammates. Whenever Larin and Blake play each other they always talk.

“We always do, when I go there or he comes down here we always meet up, go for dinner or something. I think he won a game and I beat him once. We keep it track of the games,” Larin said.

Larin said he is still connected with UConn and follows them throughout their season.

“I watch them every time they play. I think they have a winning streak of seven games and I think they are coming down here so I’ll be there,” Larin said.

Despite his success in the MLS and the opportunity to represent Canada at the international level, Larin remains grounded and doesn’t think too far into the future.

Larin made his international debut for Canada against Bulgaria in 2014. He has scored five goals for the national team since then.

“I think later down in my career I can figure that (what he wants to achieve next) out. I just started playing professional soccer, this is my second season and I have to think about it,” Larin said.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.