Larin’s Lions Future

After three seasons with Orlando City, Cyle Larin is coming to a crossroads in his young career whether to stay put or head across the Atlantic to Europe… but he looks to have made up his mind.

The Canadian recently spoke to Alicia Delgallo, of the Orlando Sentinel, and said: “I think I’m at the right place to go play in Europe and it’s the right time.”

The 22-year-old saw his contract run out at the end of the season but the club looked to exercise an extension for the 2018 season when announcing their end of season roster last week.

2017 Season

It was a turbulent campaign for Larin but he still ended as Orlando City’s top goalscorer for the third consecutive season with 12 goals.

The highlight of his performances came when he scored both goals in the Lions’ 2-1 win at the Yankee Stadium in April when showing all of his attributes with pace, strength and his aerial prowess, especially highlighted with his second goal.

In June, the Canadian was arrested for Drinking Under Influence (DUI) when driving in the wrong direction.

He was suspended by the MLS until undertaking the Substance Abuse and Behaviour Health (SABH) programme, which saw him miss out on three games.

After the suspension, he went on to net just four goals in 13 matches and in that time he seemed to struggle to forge a partnership with the club’s record signing Dom Dwyer.

If you turn back the clock to the 2015 season and we saw Larin named MLS Rookie of the Year after playing a pivotal role in the Lions’ inaugural campaign after bagging 17 goals under Heath’s stewardship.

Goals by Season:

2015: 17 goals
2016: 14 goals
2017: 12 goals

Heath vs Kreis

The two coaches have used Larin in different ways and he seemed to thrive under Heath’s possession football that saw him have players with flair and pace to support him from wide areas with crosses.

Heath’s formation switched from playing him as a lone forward to the spearhead of a front three and that saw him getting into plenty of goal-scoring positions because they had plenty of the ball.

However, under Kreis, he’s struggled with Orlando’s style of play changing to a more defensive approach, which doesn’t see the Lions have as much possession as they did with Heath in charge.

That showed with Orlando scoring just 39 goals in 34 games with only DC United scoring fewer – and they finished bottom of the Eastern Conference.

That’ll have disappointed the Lions faithful considering they also saw Dom Dwyer join the club in July.

We saw them partnered together but they didn’t hit it off with them sharing eight goals in those final 13 games.

Given Kreis bought Dwyer from SKC in a trade package that could rise to an MLS record of $1.6 million, then you suspect that 2018 will revolve around the US international.

Big Clubs Sniffing

There has been plenty of speculation about clubs touting potential moves for the strapping centre-forward.

Champions League clubs Anderlecht and Besiktas have been mentioned in scouting reports, while clubs in England and Germany are said to be preparing moves for the talented forward.

With Larin telling local media he is ready to move then Orlando may have their hands tied into allowing him to fulfil his potential and dreams of playing in the big leagues.

Orlando City’s general manager Niki Budalic was questioned about the future of Larin. He told the Orlando Sentinel: “We understand if there’s an opportunity for him (Larin) to go that we agree with then, yes, I think we’ll definitely help support him.”

With that admission, it sounds like Orlando are readying themselves for offers for the talented forward while the MLS franchise has already been linked with Malmo’s Jo Inge Berget, who could be the answer to fill the void.

About the Author

Matt Kirby
I'm a freelance journalist who specialises in football and horse racing.