The University of Connecticut men’s soccer programs has continuously produced top talent that has gone on to have success in Major League Soccer over the last ten years. In the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, former Huskies Jake Nerwinski and Kwame Awuah were both selected in the first round. In the 2014 and 2015 SuperDrafts, former UConn players Andre Blake and Cyle Larin were taken with the first overall picks respectively. Both have gone on to have a lot of success in their young careers, but who has been the most impressive?
Antonio Salazar - Staff Writer
Joe Burns - Campus Correspondent
Antonio Salazar: Coming out of UConn, Andre Blake was a star in college soccer and was an integral part of the Huskies regular season Big East Championship in 2012. Because of that, the Philadelphia Union made Blake the first ever goalkeeper selected with the number one overall pick. After not starting his first year in Philly, Blake has solidified his spot as one of the best keepers in the league, winning the 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year this past season. Blake has been the best of the Huskies in the pros.
Joe Burns: Although Andre Blake has impressed since joining the MLS, forward Cyle Larin proved himself beyond belief in his first two seasons, scoring 31 goals in 59 games played. Although he did not match his 17 goal mark set in his 2015-2016 campaign with Orlando City FC, he was able to add three assists to the 14 goals he scored in the 2015-2016 season. Larin has quickly risen in status in the MLS, where his 14 goals placed him 8th on the list of top goalscorers in the league, only 3 goals behind the top scorers Ignacio Piatti and Sebastian Giovinco. Orlando City FC teammate Kaka was so impressed by Larin, in fact, that he told MLSSoccer.com that he believes Larin “can play in a big team in Europe,” if he continues to perform. Speaking of his future with the team, Larin wants to improve his goal scoring and consistency, saying “now that I know and understand my coach better, which was a process I had to get used to, I know what to expect and I’d hope to score a lot more goals consistently throughout the year.” Larin’s career speaks for himself. In my estimation, he edges Blake.
Salazar: Blake has also established himself internationally with Jamaica, earning 23 caps since 2014. Blake was a part of the Reggae Boyz 2014 Caribbean Cup Championship in which he saved the first shot he faced in the penalty kick shootout. Blake was also a member of the 2015 Gold Cup squad that historically reached the final before falling to regional powerhouse Mexico.
Burns: Internationally, Larin has been active since he was playing at UConn. Starting in 2013, he played in 19 games for the Canadian national team. While only being subbed in twice in 2013, he scored one goal for Canada in the three games he played in 2014. Once Larin hit his professional career, however, he would play more frequently with the team and earn a starting spot. The forward started 10 games for Canada in the World Cup Qualifiers and scored four goals, as well as netting an additional goal in the two games he started during the Gold Cup in 2015.