Cyle Larin (left) celebrates one of his goals with Giles Barnes. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — A bit of unsolicited advice for New York City FC:
If you really, really want to get Cyle Larin out of your hair and out of your net, you might want to praise this talented Orlando City striker on social media.
This writer kids you not.
Tweet and boast about his ability to find the seams on defense and get open in dangerous scoring position.
On Facebook, marvel about his amazing finishing ability.
And don’t forget to mention this Canadian international is just getting into his prime as a goal-scorer because he only recently (April 17) celebrated his 22nd birthday.
And, if you fortunate, one of those European clubs that follow you on social media will read or be reinforcement by Larin’s accomplishments, take (further) notice of his talent and inquire about a possible transfer to their teams from Orlando.
Now, that all sounds so much easier than done. Of course, the way Larin piles up goals against NYCFC, he makes it look so easy. He added two more Sunday in a 2-1 win over City at Yankee Stadium.
Lions head coach Jason Kreis called it “a monster performance,” against a team that has not found a way to stop the striker since he registered a hat-trick against it in a 5-3 City win in July 2015.
Kreis was NYCFC coach back then.
“He had success a few years back and I didn’t like it,” he said. “I was on the receiving end. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it has to do with the size of the field.”
Perhaps, perhaps not.
Yankee Stadium houses the smallest of all 22 Major League Soccer fields at 110 x 70 yards.
Regardless, Larin owns NYCFC and in fact, any other MLS club with the name New York in it. He has scored nine goals in seven matches against City and another four in six games against the Red Bulls. That gave him a strike rate of one per match — 13 goals in 13 appearances. Against the rest of the league, he has been much more mortal with “only” 24 goals in 58 games.
Still, a decent scoring rate, but dwarfed by his City production.
“I think you have to give him a lot of credit because he was at the right place at the right time,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said. “The way he finished was really good. I’m not surprised at all because we knew if he had the chance and he was in the box he would finish. He’s a good finisher. I think he showed it today.”
Jack Harrison, who knows something or two about finishing, praised his rival after Larin tallied in the 31st and 51st minute to give Orlando a 2-0 lead.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We knew that Cyle was a big threat to us and unfortunately we were unable to shut him down today. He scored two good goals in the box that could have easily been prevented. We had our chances as well again on the other side. We struggled to put them away.”
Orlando SC has beaten City twice this season 1-0 in the March 5 season opener at Orlando City Stadium and 2-1 Sunday. Larin has struck for every goal.
His production might remind New York soccer fans and observers of another nemesis: Pat Noonan, who forged a reputation as the MetroStars-killer with the New England Revolution in the early 2000’s when the team called Giants Stadium home.
These players just have a knack of scoring against certain teams.
Noonan made life miserable for MetroStars defenders and goalkeepers.
Likewise for Larin for NYC FC defenders and goalkeepers.
“He’s a talented player,” City keeper Sean Johnson said. “He’s strong and he’s a good finisher. Doesn’t need many opportunities and that is the sign of a good striker. He’s a good young player.”
Luxembourg international center back Maxime Chanot, who along with Ethan White was burned on Larin’s first goal when the striker slid between the two players to slip home a right-wing cross, would like to forget about it as soon as possible.
“This is a game we want to forget,” he said. “Congratulations, Orlando and we have to come back to work on Tuesday and forget this game.
“I don’t want to talk too much about him. He scored two goals. That’s what you expect as a striker. So congratulations to him.”
In case you were wondering, these two sides will tussle in the regular season one more time — in a little more than a month in Orlando Sunday, May 21.
Don’t be surprised if NYCFC suffers through another Larin goal or two.
Any transfer window can’t come soon enough.