After scoring both of Orlando City's goals in a 2-1 MLS victory at New York City FC it's an understandingly pleased Cyle Larin who sits down with us to wrap-up his post match media duties.
The Canadian international and Orlando number nine has been in prolific goalscoring form since he was named 2015 Rookie of the Year award while attracting more interest from Europe each week. Intent on making the first chapter at his club a foundation for success to be built upon Larin is very much a man of the moment and a man in demand.
Cyle, firstly what do you think of the Orlando 'Parley for the Oceans' jersey you wore vs NYCFC?
I think it’s great that the club and adidas are supporting the Parley for the Oceans campaign. The shirts are made from plastic found in the oceans so it’s a great initiative and one that all the players really took to. The Orlando jersey looks amazing too.
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have worn the same jerseys. How does it feel to be given the same recognition at Orlando?
To be one of the teams to follow such famous clubs as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid feels great. It’s an honour really, the fact that adidas want to bring this initiative to MLS and we’re all really happy that Orlando were chosen as one of the clubs to get involved.
MLS is in a good place right now. Over the past decade players in the US have often felt the need to go to Europe to prove themselves. Do you think that mentality is changing now that MLS is growing?
Yeah I think it is changing. Major League Soccer is getting a lot better. Not only the quality of the football, but the quality of the players, facilities and interest from supporters. It has developed a lot and more great players are being attracted to the league. I think there’s a lot of key factors keeping players in MLS now, there’s less ‘need’ to go and play in Europe to develop. There’s a lot of options and different routes for young players to get into MLS now. The coaching is much better than it was, the youth teams are stronger and the overall outlook is very professional. I think the gap between soccer is the US and Europe is closing.
The club have a new home this season. What’s it like to finally be in the new stadium?
It’s really exciting playing at the new stadium. Firstly, just to play on natural grass is great. Every player at the club loves playing at the stadium and the way they have built it really maximises the atmosphere. It’s loud and that makes it difficult for visiting teams. It’s a major difference to play at a soccer specific stadium.
It’s built for a soccer atmosphere, and all the noise is projected down onto the field, the fans are close to the field and it’s intense. I think it also helps validate the club, having your own stadium gives fans something to be proud of and something for the players to protect. You don't feel that attachment as much in a borrowed American Football or Baseball ground. The new standing areas have boosted the atmosphere too, that definitely gives you an added buzz of energy to score in front of that end.
Orlando City is a young club. What’s like to have the opportunity to write the first chapter in the club’s history?
It feels great. It’s such a unique opportunity and Orlando is such a progressive place to be right now. I’ve been here since the club started in MLS and feels good to set new records for the future players to try and break. We're creating a legacy at the club and in Orlando as a whole.
Were you surprised how quickly the people of Orlando have taken to the club?
Yeah, the support we have is incredible – it could have taken years to build that fan base but the people have really got behind us and given us the perfect start. I didn’t know a lot about Orlando before I came here, I only knew about Disney! But, from the moment I got here I’ve loved it. The backing we've received is fantastic and the players a truly grateful for the support. It's a huge motivation to see fans really involved when you're chasing a goal or protecting a lead.
Kaka. An unbelievable player. What his influence been like at the club?
He's big influence on everyone at the club and probably everyone he's ever played with to be honest. He’s been to a lot of places I want to go and he’s done a lot of things I want to do. A lot of people at the club would love to do and win the things he’s done and won. He’s got a lot of experience and we all look up to him. He’s a great player and a great person off the field too. Every player in the world would love to play with Kaka and I’m lucky enough to have that opportunity.
You were named Rookie of the Year last season and you're in prolific goalscoring form that has lead to speculation from Europe. How do you deal with extra media attention?
I just keep working hard and it keeps me motivated to keep improving. It’s great to be noticed but I think I can still improve a lot so it’s exciting that teams are taking notice of me now, as I know I can still take my play up a few levels. If I focus on Orlando and focus on achieving success with Orlando then I'm doing the right things.
You went straight into the senior Canadian National Team rather than going through the youth teams. Why do you think that was?
When I was younger I just wasn’t picked. I don’t know why, I just wasn’t. But when Benito Floro came into the National Team he called me up and gave me an opportunity. He said that he saw the quality in me and he put a lot of trust in me and that’s helped me develop. He’s was a great coach for me.
The USA, Mexico and Canada have announced plans to bid for 2026 World Cup. What would that mean to you and Canada?
It would mean a lot for us. To be in a World Cup would be incredible for the fans. When I was living in Canada when I was younger people would put the flags of other nations on their cars when the World Cup was on, so to be able to give the people a chance to get behind their own country would be amazing. It’ll be a huge step in helping Canada progress as a footballing country but I’m pretty sure we’ll make a World Cup before that!
What would Canada offer as a host nation to the World Cup?
It’s very multi-cultural in Canada, there would be support from the whole country and I think the people would embrace the atmosphere. There’s some great venues to host soccer but also it would be great for the country to have so many people visit that may not have done before. There’s so many beautiful places in Canada and to share that with the world thanks to soccer would be pretty special.
Photography by Cole Wilson for SoccerBible.