Cyle Larin joined Orlando City as the first pick in the 2015 MLS Superdraft, after playing one season of college soccer with UConn. As it turned out, the pick validated the Orlando City front office brain trust, as Larin would go on to have a history-making season in MLS as he secured MLS 2015 Rookie of the Year honors.
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2015 Summary: Coming into the season, I think most Orlando City fans and many MLS analysts thought that Orlando City would have a rookie of the year candidate in Kevin Molino, who had proven to be a superstar for Orlando City in USL. But after Molino was hurt in May, Cyle Larin began playing a lot more and took the opportunity to blossom.
Coming in to 2015, the MLS Rookie goal record was 11 goals, a mark that was set back in 2003. By mid-summer, Cyle Larin had equaled that historic mark, and it was virtually certain he would set a new scoring record for rookies, as well as capture MLS Rookie of the Year honors for 2015. Larin scored on headers, by chesting the ball into the net, and with both short-range and long-range strikes off his feet. As the season went along it became more and more infectious for fans to see Larin rack up a higher score tally, and in the final month of the season, the entire Orlando City team seemed to be working to help him get as many goals as possible.
2016 Prediction: I may be in the minority among Orlando City fans, but my biggest fear going into 2016 is that a side in one of the top European leagues will want to sign Cyle Larin away from us and take his skills to the other side of the Atlantic. That is a selfish fear as a fan of Orlando City, but it's something that I hope could be turned to our advantage should that development come to pass, either through getting a great price for selling his rights that we can use to go out and sign more talented players. Certainly as a fan of the player, I would not want to stand in the way of Cyle Larin having an opportunity to play at the highest possible level of global soccer that he is able to reach, and I would hope and expect that Orlando City's ownership would like to see that, too.
Barring Larin being signed away to a European side, I am confident that Cyle Larin will be back with Orlando City's first team in 2016. I expect to see him play an even more pronounced role with the team next season, both in terms of scoring and setting up scores. Larin led all players on the squad in 2015 in goals, and I think the increased skill of his teammates next season will make it harder for opponents to key off against him. With luck, this will allow Cyle Larin to increase his scoring output over 2015, but even moreso I hope it allows the team to achieve the goal of reaching the playoffs next season.