There are 2055 kilometers that separate Cyle Larin's hometown of Brampton from his new home in Orlando. During the offseason there were questions as to whether that distance would be even farther. If Larin was involved in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft there was never any doubt he would go first overall, the only doubts were that some other offers on the table would lead him elsewhere. Ultimately, he's happy they didn't.
"I think Major League Soccer was the right place for me," Larin tells Waking the Red. "It was where I was most comfortable. I think I got drafted to a very good team with very good coaches"
The team the he was drafted to was expansion side Orlando City SC, and to nobody's surprise he was in fact the first overall pick. When the selection was announced the 19-year-old Larin was over 2436 kilometers away with the Canadian U-20 squad in Jamaica.
He and his national team teammates were gathered around a laptop when the pick was made. The second it was announced that the first overall pick was coming from Larin's University of Connecticut they erupted in cheers. Everyone understood how important this was for not only Larin, but for all of Canadian soccer.
"It meant a lot," Larin says looking back. "Not a lot of Canadian players get [opportunities like this], and I took that opportunity. I hope it can help inspire other young Canadian players to do the same."
While the majority of those young Canadians are emerging from the academies of Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact, Larin chose a different route to professional soccer. He chose to go through the collegiate system, which has long been criticized in a sport where academy over academics is emphasized.
Larin is happy he chose to play at UConn, however, and had plenty of success to underline that decision. In his two years in University he would score 37 goals in 39 games, and add 6 assists. He would also earn several awards and accolades including both American Conference rookie of the year and offensive player of the year.
"For me it was getting some of my education out of the way," explained Larin. "I had a great time having the experience of playing at college, I think it was good for me."
Now that he has moved on to the pro ranks, Larin is hoping to find similar success in his new home of Orlando. He has already laid down the roots, making his debut against the Vancouver Whitecaps earlier this month in which he impressed.
The feeling is mutual, as his first couple months in Major League Soccer have been a completely new experience for Larin. Playing in front of tens of thousands of supporters at the Citrus Bowl is certainly something new. As is the repertoire of some of his teammates, such as former World Player of the year Kaka.
"He's a great guy, a humble guy," Larin says of the Brazilian, "and he teaches you the right way to do things on and off the field."
For a brief moment, however, Larin's early career with Orlando has been put on pause as he was called up to Canadian National team for a pair of friendlies against Guatemala and Puerto Rico. He is hoping this latest appearance will turn in to a spot at one of two major competitions the national team has coming up.
"The Gold Cup and the Pan am games are at the same time so whichever one they call me up to I'll do my best," says Larin. "Whichever one they want me for hopefully I can go to and score some goals."
Whether or not come July he's with the senior national team or not, he has seen the improvement in the squad since he was first called up for a game against Colombia in October.
"I have seen a lot of tactical improvement in the team, and every day it is getting better and better."
Larin's career has already taken him a great distance. But as he continues his already impressive career he isn't looking to stop the travel any time soon.