MURCIA, Spain – After swapping Orlando City purple for the black kit of Besiktas in January, Cyle Larin suddenly found himself in a title race.
But the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year has yet to see the field or even the bench since joining the back-to-back defending Turkish champions. Larin will hope to see some game action when Canada takes on New Zealand on Saturday in Spain (11 am ET | CanadaSoccer.com) and admits it’s taken some time getting used to living in Istanbul.
“I’m almost settled in,” Larin admitted after Canada trained on Friday at the Pinatar Arena. “I’m happy to be there to be with the team and to keep learning and growing. It’s been good and I just have to keep doing the same thing and keep working hard.”
Larin’s had the advantage of having Canadian teammate Atiba Hutchinson pave the way at the Turkish powerhouse. Hutchinson, Canada’s best player in a generation or perhaps ever, is a star with Besiktas and revered as the team captain.
Both are Brampton, Ontario natives but Hutchinson, unlike Larin, has been in Europe for years while Larin had not played youth or club soccer outside of North America.
“He’s made it easier,” Larin said of Hutchinson. “Atiba’s there and has been there for a couple years. It’s good. He’s helped me a lot in making my move there and settling in and being comfortable.”
Larin admits he put himself in a difficult situation in joining a team in midseason with players in established positions. But he’s embracing the challenge and is hoping to get himself involved down the stretch.
“Hopefully I can get into a game. We have a lot of important games coming up and we have to go into every one and make sure we win and hopefully we can be champions again.”
Despite making the move to Europe, Larin is still checking on his former teammates in Orlando.
Lions midfielder Richie Laryea is a childhood friend and Larin is hopeful the team can get on track after a winless first three games of the new MLS season.
“I’ll always support Orlando,” said Larin. “I’ve been there since the start of my professional career. I have a lot of teammates that are friends there so I hope for the best for them.”