Move over Kyle Bekker, your record is about to be broken. The only way that Cyle Larin does not become the new record holder as the highest ever Canadian selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft is if he elects not to sign with the league.
The latest from those connected to Larin seems to be that he will not be returning to the University of Connecticut and that the strong push being made by MLS, Orlando City, and New York City may just be enough to land his signature on a Generation adidas contract in the coming month.
Larin will certainly have options though and they are options that he has had for a few years now. Prior to enrolling at UCONN he spent time training at a number of different clubs in Europe and that time opened a number of doors for him. His play for UCONN and then his appearances for Canada have only opened more door for him and the young forward will certainly have plenty of options to choose from if he decides to forgo being the number pick in MLS.
If Larin is available on draft day there is a very good chance that he is the first name called which would send him to Orlando pending any sort of trade at the top of the draft. There are a few other names in the mix for that top pick but until the full Generation adidas class is revealed it will be difficult to get a clear picture of what the top of the draft board will look like. If Larin does go #1 to Orlando it could be a great fit for the highly rated Canadian forward to be able to lineup in front of Kaka on a regular basis. He could learn alot about goal scoring from Bryan Rochez who will be the club's top forward. Throw in Danny Mwanga or Jairo Arrieta as a strike partner and potentially Brek Shea on the wing and Larin would be the focal point of what could be a dynamic attack letting him focus on playing off the shoulder of defenders and putting the ball in the back of the net.
If he slides down to second overall he gets the chance to play in front of Frank Lampard (whenever he makes it to New York) and learn from an extremely talented striker in David Villa. It also gives him the added benefit of a connection to Manchester City which could see him spend time training with the parent club which would certainly help further his development. It would be another very good fit for the Canadian giving him access to some very good teachers.
While Larin saw his numbers dip in 2014 as a sophomore that due mainly to the time that he missed as he only made 16 appearances for UCONN compared to the 23 that he made as a freshman. He scored 9 goals and added 3 assists this past year but the most impressive line on his stats page is that he scored his 9 goals on 63 shots (14%) and put 28 of his 63 shots on goal. In college, he proved to be the kind of player who was not going to waste that many chances and that is something that he should only get better at with age.
So what is it that makes Larin such an exciting prospect that has not only Canadians looking forward to seeing him take the next step in his career? It is essentially that he is the complete package as a young forward. At 6'2" and 190 pounds the 19-year-old has the size that you need to compete with the physical defenders in MLS and is capable of being a threat on set pieces. He has the pace to beat his defender as well even showing an ability to drop back on drift out wide and challenge defenders on the dribble. Unlike a lot of 19-year-old forwards playing in the NCAA he is not a diamond in the rough or a raw player in need of refinement but rather already a player capable of making a smooth transition to the professional game and just lacking a little bit of polish.
Larin made three appearances for the Canadian Mens National Team in 2014 coming on as a second half substitute on each occasion. He would have had even more appearances this year if he had not been unavailable at times due to his commitments with UCONN. He may not have opened his international scoring account this year but based on the way he played that first goal is probably not that far away.
Given the way that the CanMNT has long struggled to find a consistent scoring threat it is no surprised that so many Voyageurs are excited by the prospect of seeing Larin in red and white for years to come. The added bonus is that his size and strength should set him up well to deal with the kind of play that he will consistently face in CONCACAF.
Larin is the sort of natural finisher that teams have to be excited about since he can find the back of the net in such a wide variety of different ways. He has a raw skill set that Canada has been lacking for a long time and there is a good reason that he has been given a number of call ups this year despite still being busy with school. There are not many NCAA players getting minutes for their national team but there is a good reason why Larin is the exception to that rule.
For those who have never seen Larin in game action the internet is not going to offer you a whole lot of help. There are next to no highlights of him playing for UCONN, Sigma, or the National Team so instead we will go with an interview of Larin talking about his first appearance for Canada.
The Toronto FC perspective on this one is that if they are going to try and land Larin they will need to trade up to a top three pick at the very least and probably even higher than that. It seems unlikely that Orlando or New York would be willing to trade down in the draft but stranger things have happened. TFC do have Jordan Hamilton on the roster already but for a club that has struggled for years to get consistent goal scoring the idea of having another scoring threat of the roster at the very least makes the idea of trading up to grab Larin tempting.
With the top of this draft set to be shaped almost entirely by the members of the Generation adidas class it will be interesting to see just who signs deals. Depending on who puts pen to paper it is possible that Larin could go anywhere in the top 3 but it seems highly unlikely that Larin falls anywhere beyond the Montreal Impact's third overall pick.
The 2015 Generation adidas class may be the smallest one in the history of the program but that should not stop it from being very strong. The strength of the class will play a role in why it is going to be so small since players like Larin are going to command large salaries to keep them from pursuing options elsewhere. Until we know who signs it will be hard to guess just how the draft will shape up at the top.