Orlando City welcome Cyle Larin back into fold with team in need of goals

Cyle Larin - Orlando City - looking to the side

ORLANDO, Fla. – Cyle Larin can expect a substantial workload on his return to action with Orlando City SC at Real Salt Lake on Friday night (9:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, MLS LIVE in Canada).

The Lions’ leading striker has missed the last three games while being in the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program following a DUI incident on June 15.

Now cleared to resume all team activities once more, Larin is due to be straight back in the starting lineup, and the focal point of an attack that will likely be without ankle injury victim Carlos Rivas against fellow strugglers Real.

Head coach Jason Kreis – returning to his former Salt Lake City stomping grounds – was anxious to see the big Canadian back in training this week, with a full session in Orlando on Wednesday and then a late-afternoon stint after the team’s arrival in Utah on Thursday.

Kreis was quick to single out Larin’s “energy,” as well as point to the fact his star goalscorer was “regretful” about what had happened and anxious to make up for lost time. The coach is well aware his men need to improve a current streak of just one win in 11 games, and hopes the eight-goal forward can be a key part of that.

Kreis was both encouraged and relieved to have the attacking spark-plug back in business.

“He’s pretty good. Obviously he’s had a week, 10 days, of rest,” the coach observed. “He had some good energy, which was nice to see. I talked to him on a private level on a couple of occasions before he left to go to South Carolina for the evaluation, but once he’s there you’re not allowed to speak to him, which I think is a good policy, as it puts the focus on the job in front of them. We therefore weren’t able to see him or talk to him until this morning.”

The subject of Larin’s indiscretion has not been glossed over within the club, but it is clear Kreis now expects his team to put things firmly in the past, especially off the back of a 4-0 loss at Chicago last Saturday.

“Cyle addressed the team before the [training] session, so it’s obviously nice to have him back, and nice to see that he’s regretful about his actions,” Kreis insisted. “As we’ve said before he left [for the league’s SABH program], once we take responsibility for our actions and apologize for that, we forgive and we move forward.

“Now we need to treat this opponent with the utmost respect. I don’t think that should be hard to do walking into this game off of a 4-0 drubbing. Our team should be very focused and should be intent on providing a better performance.”

Rivas did not train on Thursday, making him doubtful even to suit up for Orlando’s third successive road game, which leaves Larin, Kaká and Giles Barnes to carry the attacking load for a team that has scored more than one goal only twice in their last eight outings.