Breaking News

MLS Improves Offer, Comes To Terms With Cyle Larin

Following a nightmarish week of PR debacles, Major League Soccer upped its offer to Univ. of Connecticut striker Cyle Larin and the parties have agreed to terms ahead of the league's Jan. 15 draft.
BY Brooke Tunstall Posted
January 04, 2015
9:55 PM
AFTER SEVERAL MISSES and a week of unwanted headlines because of the Frank Lampard fiasco, Major League Soccer has finally found the back of the net this winter in the form of a key signing for its Generation Adidas program.

Although it failed to sign several of the top underclassmen in college soccer this fall, MLS has now gotten one of its coveted targets, coming to a verbal agreement in principal with highly regarded Connecticut sophomore forward Cyle Larin, a member of the Canadian national team who had several options in Europe. Larin is expected to formally sign his contract Monday morning, industry sources familiar with the negotiations confirmed to American Soccer Now.

MLS, which negotiates and signs all contracts for Generation Adidas, the program it uses to get underclassmen into the draft, had been in contract talks with Larin for about two weeks and as recently as Friday remained far enough apart that there was concern from Larin’s camp that the two sides wouldn’t reach an accord. Despite Larin preferring to start his career in MLS, he was forced to consider one of several European options he had.

A powerfully built six-foot-two forward with deft feet and a nose for the goal, Larin became one of the most coveted players in college soccer as a freshman when he scored 14 goals in 23 games in 2013 and helped the Huskies to the NCAA quarterfinals. Several publications named him as the top first-year player in the country.

That performance caught the attention of Canadian national team coach Benito Floro, who brought Larin into camps last spring and he made his debut with the senior national team against Bulgaria in May—less than a month after turning 19.

Because of his international experience and the recommendations of Floro, a former Real Madrid coach, Larin had several options in Europe. He trained with Belgian club Genk this summer and after completing his exams last month returned to Belgium and the Netherlands for workouts at clubs there. He also had interest from an English Premier League club, according to someone close to him.

Once he formally signs his contract, Larin will become the odds-on favorite to be the top player selected in next week’s MLS SuperDraft. Expansion Orlando City has the first pick and has scouted Larin. He is also coveted by expansion cousin New York City FC and the Ontario native’s hometown Toronto FC is also very high on him. League sources have said both New York and Toronto have had preliminary discussions with Orlando in the event Larin was signed.

MLS had identified a quartet of players as its top targets for Generation Adidas and before reaching an agreement with Larin had failed to sign any of them. Georgetown sophomore defender Joshua Yaro and UCLA freshman forward Abu Danladi, both Ghanaians who went to prep school in California, announced they were staying in school while Washington sophomore midfielder Cristian Roldan has so far rejected MLS offers because they are too low and a source close to Roldan said the league has told him they won’t be increasing their offer.

Additionally, MLS clubs have failed to sign a pair of sophomores who are eligible for homegrown contracts because they played with the academy side of an MLS team before matriculating to college. Stanford sophomore forward Jordan Morris, who in November became the first active college player in two decades to be capped by the U.S. national team, confirmed Friday an ASN report that he is returning for his junior year instead of signing with Seattle. And Maryland sophomore goalkeeper Zack Steffen, a member of the U.S. Under-20 national team, signed with Freiburg in Germany instead of the Philadelphia Union, which held his homegrown rights.

Meanwhile, MLS took a substantial public relations hit when it was announced last week that English legend Frank Lampard, who was originally supposed to begin the season with New York City FC, would not join the club until July because he’s going to finish the Premier League season with Manchester City, a move that outraged U.S. soccer fans and put MLS in damage-control mode.

All of this played into Larin’s hands and he patiently waited for MLS to increase its offer. The two sides edged closer over the weekend before reaching a verbal agreement Sunday night. Larin was seeking a deal similar to what the top field players in Generation Adidas got a year ago and an industry source said the agreement he reached was slightly more than what Vancouver defender Christian Dean, a Generation Adidas signing a year ago out of Cal-Berkeley, signed for. Per the MLS Players' Association, Dean's total compensation was just over $160,000 a year.

With an agreement now reached, MLS will now try to buttress its 2015 Generation Adidas class. The league has already agreed to terms with Central Florida’s Romario Williams, a junior from Jamaica who had a strong showing this summer in the Premier Development League. A league source said that late last week the league extended a first contract offer to Alex Bono, a junior goalkeeper from Syracuse who was a consensus first team All-American this season.

The league’s annual player-evaluation combine begins Friday in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and MLS hopes to have any underclassmen it signs to Generation Adidas deals available to be evaluated then so any additional signings will likely be this week. ASN will be at the combine and filing a steady stream of reports over the course of the event.

Brooke Tunstall is an American Soccer Now contributing editor and ASN 100 panelist. You can follow him on Twitter.

Post a comment