In Tuesday’s historic win over Mexico, Cyle Larin put in a heroic performance, scoring arguably the two most important goals of his career — and potentially the two most important goals for the Canadian men’s soccer program.
With his 21st and 22nd career goals for the senior team, Larin has tied the legendary Dwayne De Rosario for the all-time lead in goals scored for the program.
Not only is Larin tied at the top of that chart, he also ranks third with 11 goals scored in World Cup Qualifying, world-wide.
⚽️ The top scorers in World Cup qualifying, world-wide:— FotMob (@FotMob) November 17, 2021
1️⃣ Ali Mabkhout, 13 goals
2️⃣ Wu Lei, 12 goals
= Harry Kane
= Memphis Depay
3️⃣ Cyle Larin, 11 goals
4️⃣ Marcelo Moreno, 9 goals
= Sardar Azmoun
= Omar Al Somah
= Takumi Minamino
= Yuya Osako pic.twitter.com/aFu67Eqxfk
Larin joined the senior men’s program in early 2014 when he received a call up for a training camp by then manager, Benito Floro. Later that year, he was brought in for a couple of friendlies against European opposition and was seen to be a solution to Canada’s attacking woes – as they were in the midst of a 15-game winless streak and a scoreless drought of over 900 minutes. The main reason that Canada had trouble scoring was because of the lack of quality throughout the team and lack of service to the strikers.
Larin was the number one pick in the 2015 MLS Superdraft and big things were expected of the Canadian striker right away. And he lived up to those expectations early on with Orlando City SC, scoring an MLS rookie record 17 goals in his first season, winning the Rookie of the Year award along the way. 2016 was similarly impressive on the domestic stage, as he led the team in scoring with 14 goals in 32 matches.
And that success in MLS translated over to the national team level. At just 19 years of age, Larin opened his account with Canada’s senior team in March of 2015 scoring a goal in a friendly against Puerto Rico. Three months later, he scored in each leg of a World Cup Qualifying tie against Dominica, with Les Rouges winning 6-0 on aggregate.
With a highly-publicized transfer saga between Larin and Orlando at the forefront of his career in 2018, his form dipped slightly as he was eventually sold to Turkish club Besiktas. He started off well, scoring a hat-trick in the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League, however, followed that up with just one goal in 12 league appearances in his first year overseas.
He was subsequently loaned to Belgium’s SV Zulte Waregem where Larin refound his footing, scoring nine goals and adding 11 assists in 33 matches. And in 2020, returning back to Besiktas, the Brampton, Ontario native erupted with 19 goals and six assists leading the Turkish side to its first league title since 2017.
And as Larin’s play improved, in the meanwhile, Canada continued to add quality players throughout the pitch. With the likes of Stephen Eustaquio and fellow striker Jonathan David — among many more — creating chances, the squad was bound to score more goals.
But with more talent and depth meant more competition at the No. 9 position for Canada, and one of the biggest questions that now had to be answered was whether or not Larin and David, who had contrasting styles of play, could both be in the starting lineup.
However, that proved to be a non-issue rather quickly as head coach John Herdman opted to play both strikers in numerous games during the earlier rounds of 2022 World Cup Qualifying, and it became evident that their skillsets complemented one another. In fact, with Larin missing out on the October window after picking up an injury, David’s production dropped as well, and Herdman suggested that one of the main reasons for that was the absence of Larin.
Larin’s brace against El Tri on Tuesday was icing on the cake for what has been an incredible year for the 26-year-old striker. In 2021, he has scored a jaw-dropping 14 times for Canada.
“I’m happy to tie the record and hopefully one day beat it but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates. I’m happy to get there, but it will be better if we make a World Cup,” said Cyle Larin postgame. “The fans came out for us today and supported us in the cold. We’ve all grown up in this weather, so we’re used to it.”
Larin will look to continue his impressive scoring record when the next round of qualifying games takes place for Canada in the new year. For now, take a look at some of the goals that the striker has scored over the past 10 months.