Canadian Larin could go No. 1 in MLS draft

Canada's Cyle Larin, front. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Name: Cyle Larin
Born: April 17, 1995, in Brampton, Ont.
Position: Striker
Pro club: None… yet

Why is he in the news?

A Canadian striker who recently finished his sophomore season of NCAA soccer with the University of Connecticut, Larin was one of nine players recently signed to Generation adidas contracts by Major League Soccer. That means his wages won’t count against the salary cap of the team that acquires him in the draft.

Larin may also go first overall in the MLS SuperDraft, the first two rounds of which are taking place on Thursday in Philadelphia. He’s also currently representing Canada at the CONCACAF U-20 championships in Jamaica, and played 19 minutes in the team’s tournament-opening win over Haiti.

He’s special because

A six-foot-two, 190-lb. goal scorer with quick feet, Larin might just be Canada’s most sure-thing pro prospect in recent memory. If selected first overall by the expansion Orlando City in the MLS SuperDraft, he’d be the first Canadian to have the honour.

NCAA career

Larin played two seasons for the UConn Huskies, scoring 23 goals in 39 games. As a sophomore this past season, he paced the team with nine goals and had more game winners (three) than anyone in his conference. He was also named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

Before going to UConn, he excelled at the private soccer academy Sigma FC of the Ontario Soccer League. During his time there, Larin went to Europe for training stints with Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg in Germany and with Club Brugge in Belgium.

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International career

Just 19, Larin has already made three appearances for Canada’s senior men’s team, the first of which was a friendly against Bulgaria last May. He played against Moldova four days later and then again against Colombia (a 1–0 defeat) in October, but has yet to notch his first international goal.

Interestingly enough, he played for the senior team before ever suiting up for a lower-level national side. This past weekend’s game against Haiti was his first U-20 appearance.

His most famous moment

This one. Like, right now, while you’re reading this, though he’s likely to create a more specific one as the CONCACAF U-20 championships go on and as SuperDraft day progresses.

In the meantime, he scored some nice goals for UConn and had a bit of a coming-out party when he scored two goals in a 5–0 shellacking of SMU in November, 2013 (he’s No. 10 in this highlight pack):

Here’s an interesting fact

Larin is only the second Canadian-born player to sign a Generation adidas contract. The first was Hamilton-born Teal Bunbury, who was drafted fourth overall by the Kansas City Wizards in 2010 and currently plays for the New England Revolution.

He said it

“Hopefully in a couple years (Canada will) be really good and be able to make it to a World Cup.”

What they’re saying about him

“Cyle’s one of those players that just has the raw ability to be what he wants to be. He can play a couple of different positions. Obviously getting called up to the Canadian national team already, he’s playing at a world stage and I think he has the ambition to do that.” — Tim Bezbatchenko, Toronto FC general manager.

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