NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cyle Larin is doing what he usually does by finding the back of the net. If the forward keeps this up, he might just help Canada end its long World Cup drought.
Larin scored the tying goal in the 62nd minute Sunday night to help Canada earn a 1-1 draw against the United States. That was his 20th international goal and ninth of this qualifying cycle — most in CONCACAF and tied for second in all qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
Canadian defender Samuel Adekugbe said it's just Larin being Cyle Larin.
“I think his performances this year speak for himself,” Adekugbe said. "Not just in club football, but in national team as well. You know he was one of the top goal scorers in the Turkish League, and he manages to find it all the time. And I think he’s just a consistent performer in the attack.”
Larin, 26, scored 19 goals in 38 league matches for Turkey’s Beşiktaş last season. He set a record with 17 goals in 27 games to be voted Major League Soccer's Rookie of the Year in 2015 after being the No. 1 draft pick by Orlando City out of Connecticut. He had 44 goals in 89 games in all competitions for Orlando before going to Beşiktaş.
Now Larin has helped put Canada, which played in its lone World Cup in 1986, third among eight nations with two points two matches into the 14-game qualifying tournament, ahead of the U.S. on total goals. He is tied with Japan's Takumi Minamino, and only Ali Mabkhout of the United Arab Emirates has more goals (11) in this qualifying.
Larin already has become the highest scorer in Canadian history in a calendar year with 12 goals in 2021, four ahead of the previous best with more games to play. Jonathan David and Lucas Cavallini each scored eight in 2019. Canada returns to Toronto to host El Salvador on Wednesday night.
Larin credited the players around him and the formation Canadian coach John Herdman is using for his success.
“I’m learning every day how my teammates play and how to improve my game,” Larin said. “I keep doing that, I’ll keep scoring goals. It’s fun to score, and it’s fun to score with these guys and play with these guys, and I’ll keep doing that.”
Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said Larin is understanding what he should do and keeps being in good spots.
“He gets three, four good chances a game, and if he can get a goal out of that that’s very good and it’s a high scoring rate right?” Kaye said. “So he wants to put himself on the biggest world stage, and I think he’s doing so in the right way. And I’m just happy he's continuing to put goals in the back of the net for us.”
Canada's Alphonso Davies and Larin took advantage of the U.S.' sloppy defense.
Davies dribbled down the left flank and got by DeAndre Yedlin, who came in for Sergiño Dest in the 45th minute. Davies crossed in front to Larin who was open after getting away from John Brooks. Larin easily redirected the ball past goalkeeper Matt Turner.
“I don't think we changed a whole lot, but we got beat and they scored and yeah, that was tough,” U.S. captain Christian Pulisic said.
U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter credited Davies, Canada's top player and a Bayern Munich regular, with making the key play on Canada's tying goal.
“When you have a guy when you have guys like Alphonso Davies who has just burners, you can’t sleep for one minute, for one second," Berhalter said. “And he made the difference on that play. Really good play ... I have take a look at the video of how we defended ... Give him credit.”
And once again, Larin was there to finish.
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Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press