SANDY, Utah – On Friday Orlando City forward Cyle Larin returned to the pitch for the first time since his admittance into the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program following a DUI arrest on June 15. The forward didn’t find the scoresheet against Real Salt Lake, but he played an effective 90 minutes at altitude in Orlando’s 1-0 victory.
After the team secured a lead in the first half, Larin was able to do what he does best and serve as a release valve to get the ball out of RSL’s half of the field.
“He’s always a guy that if you can’t keep the ball, you can lump it forward and he can keep the ball. That’s an element that he brings to our game,” Orlando City midfielder Servando Carrasco said. “I think he was pretty good for not playing in 10 days.”
During his time away from the team, Orlando went 0W-2L-1D and only scored one goal in two road games. His efforts in the second half helped Orlando fend off RSL and earn three much-needed points.
“We probably don’t win that game without Cyle,” Orlando midfielder Will Johnson said. “He runs down a lot of things. He’s our only real true target guy.”
His presence on the field helped Orlando win on the road for the first time since April 23 at NYCFC.
“He has gone over it,” Johnson said of Larin’s return to the team. “We’re men. We support him. He’s a good guy. He’s a good character guy. He made a mistake. He’s owned up to that. We all love him and we all support him. We’re thankful nobody got hurt and we move on.”
With his return to the field behind him, Larin now has to get back into the swing of scoring goals if Orlando is to maintain their playoff position, with the Lions next playing on short rest midweek against Supporters' Shield leaders Toronto FC.
“I thought he really worked hard for us. I thought he was quite good on a couple of occasions,” Orlando head coach Jason Kreis said. “That’s not easy to do in his first game back after he was out for a few weeks, especially to do it here in altitude. We’ll get him refreshed and recharged and he can build on that performance for Wednesday.”