I was surprised by what Cyle Larin did last year. I think, actually, everybody was surprised by what Cyle Larin did last year.
He was spectacular:
The obvious question is "Can he do it again?" Orlando City SC certainly hope so, but nobody quite knows for sure.
I, however, am betting heavily that Larin improves upon his overall performance if not necessarily his numbers in Year 2 (it's tough to score 18 or more goals in a season, folks). I think he became a better and more well-rounded target forward as the season went on, adding a touch of creativity and hold-up play that freed up OCSC's other attackers to get forward and be dangerous:
Stuff like that became more frequent as summer turned into fall, and stuff like that means Kaká, Carlos Rivas (he was good from mid-September onward, I swear!), Brek Shea, Adrian Winter and Kevin Molino will all get more and better looks. OCSC won five of their last six in coming really, really close to the final playoff spot, and while Larin's goal-scoring was a big part of that -- he had six goals in that span -- his hold-up play, ability to bully defenders and complete passes was arguably more crucial.
So I've vowed not to be surprised if Larin evolves into something like a reasonable facsimile of Kei Kamara or Fanendo Adi this year. The tools are there, as is the improvement curve, and as long as that continues to be the case then a spot in the playoffs is a very, very reasonable expectation in Orlando.
This is the second in a daily series counting down to to the MLS regular season first kick on March 6. I'm using Paul Carr's tweets (with his blessing) to examine some of the bigger storylines to follow in the upcoming season.
You can find the first installment, examining David Villa's role for NYCFC, HERE.