Sunday, January 11, 2015

Canadian international forward Larin set for MLS Draft

Neil Davidson The Canadian PressCanadian international forward Cyle Larin has signed a Generation Adidas contract, setting the stage for the highly touted UConn underclassman to play a prominent role in next week’s MLS SuperDraft.

The 19-year-old from Brampton, Ont., who has been capped three times by Canadian coach Benito Floro, is seen as a possible No. 1 pick.

“Exceptional talent,” said Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Cyle’s one of those players that just has the raw ability to be what he wants to be. He can play a couple of different positions. Obviously getting called up to the Canadian national team already, he’s playing at a world stage and I think he has the ambition to do that.

“No doubt he’s projected to go high. So we’ll just have to see.”

Orlando City SC has the first pick in the Jan. 15 draft in Philadelphia followed by fellow expansion team New York City FC. Montreal picks third.

Toronto FC has three picks in the first round: sixth, ninth and 11th. The Vancouver Whitecaps select 13th.

Other Generation Adidas signings announced Thursday are goalkeeper Alex Bono, defender Conor Donovan, midfielder Cristian Roldan and midfielder/forward Romario Williams.

Generation Adidas deals, given to star underclassmen, do not count against an MLS team’s salary cap.

The only other Canadian to sign a Generation Adidas contract is New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury, who had both Canadian and U.S. citizenship. Bunbury, the son of former Canadian international Alex Bunbury, went fourth overall in the 2010 MLS draft and was subsequently capped by the U.S.

A sophomore, Larin led the Huskies with nine goals and topped the American Athletic Conference in game-winning goals (3) and goals per game (0.56). He earned All-East Region First Team and All-Conference First Team honours and was named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

The six-foot 190-pounder scored 23 goals in 39 games at UConn.

Constantine Smyrniotis, Larin’s agent and co-founder of the renowned Sigma FC club that Larin has been part of since he was 11, said the player also had interest from Europe.

The interest from MLS and support from the Canadian national team helped keep him at home, Smyrniotis said.

Larin will not be part of the MLS Combine that precedes the draft. He is in Jamaica with the Canadian under-20 team for the CONCACAF U20 championship.

Canadian defenders Nikola Paunic (South Florida) and Skylar Thomas (Syracuse) have been invited to the Combine.

Kyle Bekker, another Sigma product, became the highest Canadian drafted in MLS when Toronto took him third overall in 2013.

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