VANCOUVER, B.C. — Cyle Larin’s career at Turkish Super Liga side Besiktas started with a bang. He scored a goal on his debut and then bagged a hat trick in the last game of the season just over a month later.
The former Orlando City SC striker’s second season opened with a hat trick in a Europa League qualifier in August.
But it’s been tough sledding since for the 23-year-old. He’s made just 20 appearances across all competitions this season, and only one start in the league, and hasn’t featured in Besiktas’ last six matches.
"Right now I'm not playing, but I think I'm a starting striker and I want to start there," Larin told MLSsoccer.com. "I believe that I can. It's just a case of finding my rhythm again and then scoring goals. When you go over to teams like this, you have to perform and that's what I love. I'm motivated by it. I love a challenge. I'll keep playing and I'll keep training hard, and when I get my time to play I believe I will be there soon."
He's hoping Canada’s Concacaf Nations League qualifier against French Guiana Sunday (6 pm ET | TSN2, RDS) at BC Place will be a springboard to that, a chance to get some competitive minutes and hopefully find the scoresheet. And he’s excited about what the future holds for Canada.
"It's a close group," Larin said. "It's a group that has one goal and that's to win games and to go to the Gold Cup and win it. I believe we can, and everyone is motivated and excited. It will be a good time in the summer. We've stepped up a level of play, even from last year, and I think everyone is committed now.”
Larin isn’t second-guessing his choice to go to Turkey after earning MLS Rookie of the Year honors and scoring 44 goals in 89 appearances with Orlando City SC before his move abroad prior to the start of the 2018 season.
He believes Besiktas, where he plays with Canadian teammate Atiba Hutchinson, was a perfect landing spot.
"Besiktas is a very good team, a top team and one of the best known team in the world," Larin said. "Hopefully I'll just get better and better every day training with players over there that are top level and have played in the World Cup and the Champions League, so it's been good.”
Larin, who wouldn’t rule out a return to MLS, said he still pays close attention to Orlando City SC.
"I started my career there and I love Orlando," Larin said. "I loved playing there. The fans were great to me. They made me what I am now. I started there and they gave me a lot. I thanked them. I always follow them and still follow them now. I watch most of their games. I support them."