Larin made his fifth and sixth-straight starts for Orlando City as they experienced a mixed week, undone by a pair of late goals against DC United on Wednesday and only to hand a 4-0 thrashing to the defending champions, the LA Galaxy, on Sunday.
Larin now has eight appearances this season, having come on twice from the bench prior to the current six-game run.
On Wednesday, Orlando took the lead in the eleventh minute, Larin scoring in a second-consecutive match – the first scoring streak of his young MLS career – only to concede twice in nine minutes in the closing third of the match.
The goal, his third of the season, was a cracker, beating Bill Hamid with a blazing right-footer from just inside the eighteen-yard box.
A partially cleared corner kick fell to Harrison Heath, who tried to play up to Larin in a crowd at the top of the area. That pass was touched away from the striker, falling to Darwin Ceren, who attempted a shot on goal. His effort was blocked, but Larin was on hand to find an inch of space and blast his finish high to the left-side of goal – it was his only shot of the match.
Aside from the goal, Larin had a quiet night, though his running battles with centre-back and fellow Canadian (at least for the purposes of this review; for now), Kofi Opare. The two went toe-to-toe on several occasions, Larin giving as good as he got, committing a foul on one occasion where he ended a touch-line run from the DC defender with a desperate tug.
For his troubles, the Brampton, Ontario-native would spend a moment on the touch-line and sourcing out a new shirt, after a cut on his arm drew blood.
He would make way for Bryan Rochez in the 77th minute having scored from his only shot, completed five of eight passes, while making two clearances, two recoveries, a tackle, and an interception; winning and conceding a foul each way.
Back in the starting lineup on Sunday, Larin, again leading the line by himself, would play a crucial role in guiding his side to an impressive win over LA – ending a hex that had been a thorn in the expansion side's paw. The win was their first at home; it only took six matches.
His first looks at goal were mere half-chances, doing well to get on the end of a Brek Shea cross, but unable to bring it down cleanly under pressure from LA defender Leonardo, and breaking into space on the right from a long, searching ball, only for his pull-back to not find a teammate.
LA were struggling with a makeshift lineup, that much was clear. Eric Avila gave the hosts the lead after just twelve minutes and Larin sought to add to that margin with a cheeky attempt from distance after a poor back-pass from Leonardo that caught Jaime Penedo off his line, but sailed high. It was a chance that strikers will risk, but Larin would be advised by Kaka that given he had a runner, a pass may have been a better option.
Larin would make amends for that waste in the 34th minute, Kaka showing how setting up a teammate can be just as rewarding. The play began when Larin held up a Shea ball momentarily in the centre-circle, before playing down the left for the charging Kaka. The Brazilian maestro would back off the defenders, gliding past a half-hearted slipping-challenge from Tommy Meyer before squaring a ball to the right for Larin, who tucked his right-footer past Penedo at the short-side.
It was his fourth-goal of the season, stretching his scoring-streak to three-straight matches in the process.
Not done there, Larin would continue his tireless running. As noted by commentator Taylor Twellman, the most influential evolution witnessed so far in the rookie's game has been the increasing intelligence in the runs he chooses to make. There was another Shea cross from the left, taking advantage of just such a back-shoulder run from Larin, that he was again unable to stretch enough to touch. If those two ever get in sync, that could be a combination that is oft-repeated.
Making way for Carlos Rivas in the 78th minute, Larin would exit the match having taken four shots – only one of which was on target, completing eight of sixteen passes, while making three recoveries. He was offside once and won three fouls, conceding one.
Larin spoke post-match about his form and the first home win and earned the praise of his teammate, Martin Paterson: “I’ve been really pleased with the way that Cyle has played. I mean, for a forward we look for young players, and you look for attributes that they have, and he works a lot for his attributes and he is getting his rewards. If he continues to work hard, he is going to be some player, and now that everyone is fit, people can push him and try to get him space, and that will bring him on again. At the end of the day, he has four goals and he should be pleased with that, and he should have in his mind that he can go and get more.”
If he can continue his scoring form, he should retain his starting position and will be a candidate for rookie of the year honours.
Opare also made two starts this week, for DC, his seventh and eight-straight, as DC beat Larin's Orlando City 2-1 on Wednesday, only to fall to Philadelphia 1-0 on Sunday.
Against Orlando, Opare was largely tasked with keeping track of the machinations of Larin, engaging in an entertaining battle, once matching the forward stride for stride in a touch-line run.
It was the Niagara Falls, Ontario-raised defender who kick-started DC's comeback in the 70th minute, rising up at the back-post over Sean St Ledger to head down and across to the right-side of goal on a deep Taylor Kemp free-kick from the right. It was Opare's first goal for DC and his second in MLS, having registered one as a rookie back in 2013 for Los Angeles.
Opare would complete all but three of some-thirty passes, racking up four recoveries, three interceptions, one clearance and a tackle; winning two fouls and conceding one on the night.
He earned the regard of manager Ben Olsen afterward: “Set pieces have been big … it’s certainly got us to where we are right now. And Kofi is a handful on set pieces because he gets his head on a lot of things. It’s good to see him get on the score-sheet and get rewarded for such a good six weeks that he’s been in. He’s been fantastic. The way he’s stepped in to this center back role with such few games has been impressive.”
Come Sunday, Opare was again in the starting lineup, bringing his season total to eight starts and nine appearances, now keeping the fit-again Steve Birnbaum out of the lineup with his fine form.
Alongside Bobby Boswell once more, Opare was again a consistent obstacle to a desperate Philadelphia side, facing down the hulking frame of Conor Casey – quick to track the forward on the ball, blocking an attempt pull-back on one play, while keeping a lid on the ever-dangerous Cristian Maidana - giving no space to the attacking midfielder, tracking him out wide and constantly pestering.
With the match scoreless deep into the second half, Opare would step up to block a Zach Pfeffer shot, a feat he was unable to reprise in stoppage-time as Pfeffer found space above the left-post to score the late 1-0 winner for the hosts – it was not Opare's flank that provided that space, however.
He would end the match having compiled eight clearances, four interceptions, two blocks, two recoveries, and a tackle, conceding just a single foul, while misplacing just 6 of some 25 passes.
Following a lively appearance from the bench last weekend and a dangerous midweek performance in the Voyageurs Cup, Osorio returned to the Toronto starting lineup for the first time in four matches in Saturday's 1-1 draw at New England – it was his sixth start and eighth appearance of the season.
Taking up the left-sided midfield position, Osorio showed some real moments of quality, though was perhaps a little too unselfish on one occasion, attempting to set-up Michael Bradley rather than take a shot himself after receiving a ball from Sebastian Giovinco on the left-side of the area.
He then similarly helped craft a shooting chance for Giovinco, finding his teammate in space on the left with a neat back-roller of a pass, helping on a ball for the back-side run of Giovinco – his effort was saved by Bobby Shuttleworth.
Given the threat New England's attack width posed, the Toronto, Ontario-native was required to put in a defensive shift as well, tracking all the way back to his own-goal line on several plays, though he could be found guilty of not closing down London Woodberry's cross quickly enough, as the Revolution full-back picked out Juan Agudelo's run to open the scoring in the 32nd minute. He was in a difficult position on that play, Osorio and Ashtone Morgan were at a numerical disadvantage, as a trio of New England attackers played around the TFC duo patiently before sending in the cross.
Osorio would make way for Warren Creavalle in the 83rd minute as Greg Vanney sought to inject fresh legs to see out the draw. He completed all but five of some forty passes, adding five recoveries, two clearances, and an interception, conceding two fouls in the process.
After a difficult opening few months, a reinvigourated Osorio will provide Toronto with a much-needed additional threat, especially given the news of Jozy Altidore's injury.
Ouimette made a third-straight appearance for the New York Red Bulls on Friday night, helping quell the variety of Dallas threats in a score-less draw.
Following his solid contributions, including the emergency role after Matt Miazga's red card in the New York derby, Ouimette earned some recognition from head coach, Jesse Marsch: “Karl did come off the bench and in a game like that and being a man down, not be afraid and compete and make almost no mistakes for a young center back that was a very good performance... We've seen that a lot of our center backs have stepped into tough moments and done well.”
Taking up the right-sided centre-back position, paired with Damien Perrinelle, the Terrebonne, Quebec-native did not miss a step in a stalemate of a match.
That is not to say it was a game without challenge; Ouimette was primarily threatened down the attacking left by the speedy trickster Fabian Castillo, who has made more experienced defenders than Ouimette quake at the knees. The Canadian did very well to limit the Colombian's chances, keeping him wide on several plays, including this one, and preventing any half-chances from coming to fruition.
Though it was a relatively uneventful match, Ouimette contributed six clearances, four recoveries, and an interception, completely roughly half of some forty passes – again mostly long balls.
With Miazga away on international duty, Ouimette may see some more playing time, at least until Ronald Zubar gets up to full fitness.
Akindele returned to the Dallas starting lineup for the first time in five matches, lining up on the right-side of the Dallas midfield in their 0-0 draw against New York on Friday night – it was his seventh start and eleventh appearance of the season.
It was a relatively quiet match from the wide-forward/midfielder, his only real chance of the game came minutes into the second half, sent in by a Blas Perez ball only to shoot wide – the play was wiped out by an offside flag anyways.
The Calgary, Alberta-born forward would complete fifteen of twenty passes, adding four recoveries, two tackles, and a clearance to his stat-line before making way for Michael Barrios in the 59th minute.
Teibert made a fifth-straight start for Vancouver in their disappointing 0-2 loss to Chad Barrett, er, Seattle, on Saturday night – it was his ninth start and tenth appearance of the season.
Lining up alongside Matias Laba once more at the base of the midfield, Teibert was his effervescent self, but was unable to prevent a pair of first-half Barrett strikes from determining the outcome.
With Vancouver stung by two quick moves, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-native was allowed a more attacking role, by-passing the attentions of Gonzalo Pineda with a bursting run to slip a ball for Kekuta Manneh – his shot from distance was easily saved and held by Stefan Frei. And a later cross from the right appeared bound for the head of Kendall Waston, only for the towering form of Chad Marshall to nod it away for a corner kick.
Teibert would make way for Gershon Koffie in the 64th minute having completed all but three of roughly forty passes, adding five interceptions, three recoveries, and a tackle, while registering a single foul.
Morgan made a seventh-consecutive start for Toronto in their 1-1 draw at New England – it was his seventh start and eighth appearance of the season.
Taking up the familiar left-back slot, Morgan was faced with a difficult challenge, stifling the combined attacking talents of Teal Bunbury, London Woodberry, and Lee Nguyen, when he drifted wide into that part of the field.
The Toronto, Ontario-native did rather well considering, aside from that slight hesitation that allowed Woodberry to get in the cross that led to Agudelo's goal.
Early in the match, Morgan was alert at the back-post to head a cross away from the lurking Bunbury, and he was on the receiving end of an aggressive challenge from Jermaine Jones that perhaps warranted a booking.
He completed 17 of his 26 passing attempts, making three clearances, two recoveries, one interception, and one tackle, conceding a single foul and winning two on the night.
With the return to fitness of right-back Mark Bloom and Justin Morrow the recognized starting left-back, Morgan's run of matches may be coming to an end; at least he has taken this chance to regain his footing and prove himself a valuable member of the squad.
Bernier made his third appearance of the season in Montreal's 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Coming on in the 76th minute for Marco Donadel, the Brossard, Quebec-native completed each of his seven passes and committed one foul.
Froese similarly came on in the 76th minute, replacing Kekuta Manneh with Vancouver chasing Seattle's 0-2 lead on Saturday – it was his fourth appearance of the season.
The Cuban-born midfielder was lively, completing seven of eight passes and winning one tackle, but was unable to spur his side to a comeback against Cascadia rivals.
Wandrille Lefevre and Jeremie Gagnon-Lapare were unused substitutes for Montreal on Saturday against Salt Lake, as too were Toronto FC's Quillan Roberts and Jay Chapman in New England.
Will Johnson continued his convalescence, picking up an assist, his first, with Portland's USL side as they drew 1-1 against Salt Lake's Monarchs.
Two semi-regular review participants were out with injury, as Vancouver's Sam Adekugbe is dealing with a right ankle injury, while Philadelphia's Steven Vitoria is apparently dealing with a left knee sprain – his has not featured in the Union's last three matches.