As the saying goes: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Orlando City did exactly that when they welcomed New York City FC to the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Friday night. City’s persistence in the second half, after going down late in the first, eventually paid off.
While there were an abundance of components that drove the Lions to their fifth straight win, Cyle Larin did everything in his power to ensure his team got the three points. Before the match Larin stated, “It’s important for me to be ready for every game. If I’m ready, I know I’ll score.” It was apparent that Larin was more than ready for the match against New York City, and his two goals that were scored within ten minutes of each other proved it.
When asked if his first goal, scored with his head, was something he’d been working on in practice, Larin shrugged while explaining, “The striker’s job is to score a goal, it doesn’t matter with which part of the body. It came to me and I knew I had to head it.”
Larin used his deep knowledge of the game for his second goal. He saw that New York City had a man down just outside their box, he also knew that this player was still active and played him onside. New York City played on after their man went down, so when Orlando broke on the counter attack, it was fair play. Coach Adrian Heath hadn’t seen the New York player down when he saw Larin so far up the field, commenting, “At first I thought ‘Where’s Cyle running?’ I didn’t see the NYC player down.”
Larin has had a massive rookie season, breaking the MLS rookie goal scoring record. The two he scored tonight were numbers 16 and 17 on the list, placing him in a tie for third in MLS. Heath is especially impressed by his talent, “Cyle Larin has a huge upside. He keeps listening, keeps learning, keeps working—he’s got a big future.”
After going down 1-0 right before halftime, the atmosphere in the locker room was crucial. “We knew we had them the whole game, so in the locker room we kept it positive,” Larin confessed. “We worked hard to get the win and everyone put in a team effort.” Adrian Heath added, “It was a huge collective effort tonight. The players gave everything, the supporters gave everything, and it’s quite a difficult thing to stop here when both are in tandem. We have the best fans in the league. For us to have had this support after one year in the MLS is incredible.”
After tonight’s win, Orlando City continue to kindle their playoff flame. The Lions look ahead to the final match of the season in Philadelphia with high positivity. “We’ll win next week as well,” Heath concluded. Larin’s wonder performance has opened the eyes of many this season, and he has strong faith in his team for their next match. “We can compete with any team in this league,” he remarked. “The sky’s the limit for this team. It’s a special club.”