PHILADELPHIA - Former University of Connecticut forward Cyle Larin (Brampton, Ontario) helped the UConn men's soccer program make history on Thursday after he was selected No. 1 overall by Orlando City SC in this year's MLS SuperDraft.
With Orlando City's selection of Larin, Connecticut became the first program to have back-to-back top overall picks in the SuperDraft, which began in 1997. Former UConn keeper Andre Blake was taken by the Philadelphia Union with the top pick in last year's draft after spending three seasons in Storrs under men's soccer coach Ray Reid.
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Larin, who totaled 52 points on 23 goals and six assists in two seasons at UConn, joins Blake and Chris Gbandi as the other Huskies to be selected No. 1 overall. Connecticut's three top picks rank second all-time among Division I schools.
The Canadian striker is the third UConn player to be picked in the top two of the SuperDraft in the last three years. Former Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez was drafted No. 2 overall by Chivas USA in 2013 after finishing his UConn career with 42 assists, the third-highest total in program history. Alvarez, who is now a member of the Colorado Rapids, has played in 50 games in the MLS, totaling four assists and two goals.
"With Cyle going No. 1, we have now had a very high pick in each of the last three drafts," Reid said. "It's a testament to our program, and it really says something about the kind of players we've attracted to come play at UConn and their commitment to the game."
Four Huskies, Larin, Blake, Alvarez and Andrew Jean-Baptiste (No. 8 overall pick in 2012), have been selected in the top 10 over the last four years, and a total of 32 Connecticut players have been drafted by the MLS under Reid prior to this year. Reid was honored earlier on Thursday at the NSCAA Coaches Convention after being named the NSCAA East Regional Coach of the Year back in December.
Defender Sergio Campbell (Clarendon, Jamaica) was also selected in Thursday's draft, as he was picked by the Columbus Crew with the No. 19 overall pick. The UConn senior captain becomes the 34th Husky to be selected in the MLS Draft.
Larin shined in his two seasons at Storrs, leading the Huskies in points as a freshman and a sophomore. He earned American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 after finishing first in the league in total goals (14) and total points (31). He ended his freshman campaign with a team-best five game-winners to go along with three assists.
This past season, Larin took home another major conference award after being named the league's Offensive Player of the Year. He ranked first among conference players in game-winners (3), goals per game (0.56) and points per game (1.31), and he was second in the league with nine total goals. His 0.56 goals per game ranked 21st among Division I players, and his 1.31 points per game was the 28th-best mark nationally.
Campbell started all 64 games for UConn after transferring from Central Arkansas following his freshman season. Connecticut tallied 33 shutouts throughout his three-year career at UConn, including 12 in each of his first two years in Storrs.
The center back was named the American Athletic Conference Preseason and Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 after anchoring a defense that finished with the fewest goals conceded (3) in league play this past fall. The Huskies allowed just two goals in their final seven games, and recorded five consecutive clean sheets to end the season. The Clarendon, Jamaica native finished his UConn career with two points on two assists.
Campbell and the Crew kick off the regular season on March 7 against the Houston Dynamo, while Larin and Orlando City will make their MLS debut on March 8 when they face fellow expansion club New York City FC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
Former UConn captain and two-time American Athletic Conference Midfielder of the Year Adria Beso Marco (Lleida, Spain) is expected to be the third Husky taken this year when the SuperDraft resumes on Tuesday.
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