Not too long ago, about a year to be exact, the sky seemed to be falling on Canadian Men’s soccer. They couldn’t buy a goal, going scoreless in ten consecutive matches, much less a win.
It’s no surprise that they fell to their lowest ever FIFA ranking, 122nd. The team needed to find an answer to their problem in a hurry if they wanted to be competitive in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and they found it in the form of 20 year-old Cyle Larin.
After two highly successful seasons at the University of Connecticut, Larin went from a kid who never trained in the Canadian youth set-up to being their potential goal scoring savior.
The fact that he is 6’2”, 190 pounds, and the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft definitely doesn’t hurt. Neither does having a vastly-experienced and highly accomplished player, like Kaka, as a teammate.
His recent play for both club, Orlando City SC, and country has been nothing short of outstanding. Six goals in 12 games has him currently sitting as the leading candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year, and he already has three goals in only seven appearances for the Canadian National Team.
On top of that, Canada has finally managed to bring in the services of Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas’s talented young forward and last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year.
He and Larin look poised to form a dangerous attacking partnership for many years to come. One of them might even break Dwayne De Rosario’s record as Canada’s all-time leading scorer.
Canada now looks like an outside shot to win a group containing Jamaica and Costa Rica. As far as North America goes, those are some pretty tough competitors.
Costa Rica, however, will be without goalkeeper Keylor Navas, the main contributor in their Quarterfinal run during last year’s World Cup. Look for Larin to potentially capitalize on that should he get the opportunity.