It’s going to be a special homecoming for Cyle Larin on Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old Canadian striker, who was born just north of Toronto in Brampton, will play his first professional game in the city when Canada meet Dominica in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying series (Tuesday, 7:30 pm ET, stream available at CanadaSoccer.com, match preview).
“I’m excited to play at home,” Larin told MLSsoccer.com over the weekend. “It’ll be good for me to play here for the first time for the national team.”
Larin, who will have numerous friends and family in attendance on Tuesday, scored his second career goal for Canada in the team’s 2-0 win in the first leg in Roseau, Dominica, on Thursday. Now he’s ready for his first game at BMO Field, where another local boy — Dwayne De Rosario — made good for both club and country.
“I watched the way he played, the way he scored,” Larin said of De Rosario. “It did push me to try to get to that level.”
De Rosario recently retired as Canada’s all-time leading scorer, leading many to wonder who could fill his shoes in the years ahead. Larin’s rapid rise — he already has five goals in his rookie season with Orlando City — has put his name at the forefront of that conversation.
That's just fine with Larin.
“It just motivates me to do good things for Canada: take them far and try to make it to the World Cup,” he said. “It just pushes me to do what De Ro did in his career; hopefully, I can do more.”
While it’s far too early in Larin’s career to anoint him as the national team’s savior, he has been extremely impressive so far in 2015, seemingly gaining momentum with each passing week.
“Every time I score, my confidence goes up,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing how I’m supposed to play. I have my feet back.”
He attributes much of that early success to one of his Orlando teammates, legendary Brazilian playmaker Kaká. The day Larin was drafted by the Lions back in January, he told MLSsoccer.com he was excited about playing alongside the former FIFA World Player of the Year. After several months together, the two have clearly developed a relationship.
“Obviously, the first time [we played together], it’s quite a shock,” said Larin. “But he’s a great guy, a very humble guy. I think he’s teaching me a lot, on and off the field. It’s been good playing with him and scoring goals.”
While Larin has drawn lessons and inspiration from veterans such as De Rosario and Kaká, he also finds strength from the roar of a raucous home crowd — something he regularly gets while playing in Orlando.
“It motivates me; it keeps me going,” he said. “It makes me want to play more, play well, score goals and keep going during the game.”
Larin will hope to have just such a passionate crowd on hand and when he and his Canadian teammates return to home soil on Tuesday evening.