Just over halfway into his rookie season, Orlando City striker Cyle Larin has hit his stride. He found the back of the net five times in his last two games and now sits just one goal shy of the MLS rookie goal scoring record. Wednesday night, in his hometown of Toronto, Larin will look to make history.
In 2003, the Chicago Fire selected Jamaican Damani Ralph out of the University of Connecticut with the 18th pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Ralph would go on to break the previous MLS rookie goal scoring record by netting 11 goals in 25 games.
After being selected first overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft out of the same school, Larin had to wait to get his start in MLS. Not wanting to throw the rookie into the fire right away, Lions head coach Adrian Heath decided to start Colombian midfielder Carlos Rivas up top to begin the season.
After scoring his first MLS goal during his first start on April 12 in Portland, Larin began a streak of scoring in three straight games. Last week against fellow expansion side New York City FC, Larin netted the first hat trick of his professional career. He followed that up with a brace Saturday night against the Columbus Crew to equal Ralph’s mark.
“It takes hard work to score goals,” Larin said Saturday night about his success this season. “Working hard and training, and it comes out on the field.”
As for his coach, Heath has full confidence in his rookie striker. “He has all the tools to be a top line striker,” the Lions boss said. “People don’t realize how strong and how quick he is. We do because we see it every day.”
Damani Ralph has also noticed Larin’s ability and success. Following Larin’s two goal performance over the weekend, the former MLS striker tweeted “Congrats to my alumni @CyleLarin with his record tying 11th goal of the season. It’s been a Joy (sic) watching you.”
On Wednesday night, Larin will return to his hometown of Toronto to face Toronto FC with an opportunity to break the MLS rookie goal scoring record in front of family and friends. “It will feel good to break a record,” Larin says about potentially setting the mark at home. “Hopefully I can score.”
While Larin seeks a league record, he is also approaching the club’s all-time goal scoring record. Between 2011 and 2014 Dennis Chin scored 32 goals in all competitions for the Lions during the club’s stint in USL. With 12 goals in total this season, Larin is taking a big chunk out of that number in just his rookie year. The only current player with more goals than Larin in a purple shirt is Kevin Molino who has netted 30 goals in all competitions since 2011.
As for this season in MLS, the league’s golden boot for most goals is not out of the question. Larin’s 11 goals currently place him fourth in the league and just four behind Columbus’ Kei Kamara. And at the rate Cyle Larin is scoring that lead is not insurmountable. The rookie’s minutes/goal average is an astonishing 95.2. That is the highest in MLS since 2010 among players with at least ten goals.
Only three players in MLS history have won the league’s golden boot in their first season in the league (Roy Lassiter 1996, Taylor Twellman 2002, and Luciano Emilio 2007). However, Larin would be the first player in league history to do so in his first professional season and would be the youngest player to win the honor at just 20 years of age. Only time will tell but he is sure making a run at it!