Newfound "versatility" the key to Larin's lethal start to season

ORLANDO, Fla.- Jason Kreis had a simple explanation for the growing influence that Cyle Larin is having on the Orlando City SC attack following their 2-1 home win over Philadelphia Union – fitness.

The big Canadian made it three goals in two games – and six points – for the Lions in a commanding performance that saw him torment the Philly defense alongside new strike partner Carlos Rivas.

City’s leading scorer could easily have had a hat-trick as he and Rivas repeatedly found holes to exploit, but head coach Kreis insisted it was all about Larin’s offseason work.

“I think first and foremost it’s about the work-rate and commitment Cyle has put in to take himself to a new fitness level,” he said. “He is able to play in a little bit different way to last year and, as I’ve always said, I enjoy seeing people who work hard get some success, and it’s really pleasing to see Cyle get a couple of goals.”

Kreis also highlighted how the enhanced fitness is showing in greater versatility, that Larin is able to do more than just score goals – and keep it going for the full 90 minutes.

“I think a lot of that has to do with his movement,” Kreis said. “If I was to look at Cyle as an opposing coach, I would say he is a box forward, someone who always wants to be around the penalty box and maybe doesn’t do quite enough other than that.

“But tonight he showed an ability to make runs into the corners, an ability to turn on the ball and go at defenders 1-v-1 and also he played some very nice passes and combinations with the players around him. And that’s what we want – we want him to become a more versatile striker, not to just be a box striker.”

Larin agreed, pointing out that he is growing into a more mature role under the all-around demands of his coach.

“Every time I score I get more confident and I just think my fitness level helps me both on the ball and off the ball," Larin said. "And, late in the game, I’m able to help my team out defensively, and that’s what we need.”