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Mexico Face Off Against The Hottest Striker In MLS

The emergence of Cyle Larin as one of the most talented strikers in all of North America has been as meteoric as it has been resounding. Born in Ontario, Canada, Larin is the crown jewel for a rising Canadian side looking to qualify for their second World Cup, and first since 1986. 

Larin’s talent has been in evidence since joining Sigma FC, a private soccer academy in Ontario, at the age of 11. After spending time training in Europe with clubs in Germany and Belgium, Larin committed himself to the University of Connecticut. He would go on to score 23 goals in 39 appearances for the Huskies over the course of two seasons while deciding to turn professional after his sophomore year.

His combination of strength, speed, and finishing ability made him the consensus top pick for the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.


Aged 19, Larin was selected by Orlando City SC with the first overall pick in the draft, becoming the first ever Canadian top pick in the process. With Kaka, Carlos Rivas and Bryan Rochez expected to shoulder the offensive burden for an expansion Orlando side, the 2015 MLS season was supposed to be one of steady growth for the rookie. 

Cyle Larin | Canada

Cyle Larin has scored 4 goals in 15 appearances for Canada. Photo: @FutebolIntlFC | Twitter

It took Larin all of a month to break into the starting lineup for Orlando. He’d go on to score two hat-tricks, break the MLS rookie goal-scoring record and collect the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year Award. A haul of 18 goals in 28 appearances across all competitions for Orlando was rightly celebrated with individual accolades and call-ups to the Canadian national team.

Larin scored four goals in 11 games for Canada in 2015, including an all-important winner against Honduras on November 13, 2015. 

His outrageous success in 2015 naturally invited whispers of the dreaded “sophomore slump” in 2016. With opposition defenders sure to focus more attention on Larin in 2016 and Kaka struggling with a thigh injury to begin the season, many analysts predicted a slow start for Larin.       

Now the focal point of the Orlando attack, Larin silenced his critics by bagging a goal in each of Orlando’s opening three games. At 6'2'', Larin is a handful for defenders, and he displays a natural ability to score goals with either foot. His hold-up play has gotten better and he's also contributed with an assist this season. 

Orlando have begun their 2016 campaign undefeated thanks in large part to Larin’s goals. Now, with the international break looming, Larin has his eyes set on Mexico.

March 25 has become the ultimate test for Mexico in the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. With Mexico and Canada occupying the first and second positions in Group A, Friday’s result in Vancouver at a raucous BC Place will go a long way in determining who will qualify for the fifth and final round of qualifying.

While a draw would seem a favorable result for both sides, Mexico cannot underestimate the growing power of Canadian soccer and the undeniable talent of Cyle Larin. 

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