Sunday afternoon was supposed to be about three World Cup champions—David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka—playing on the same field in MLS. That had never happened before.
But in a 5-3 win for New York City FC over Orlando City and despite Villa's two goals and Pirlo's debut, Orlando City rookie Cyle Larin stole the show.
Larin, playing in his second game back from a difficult Gold Cup with Canada, became the eighth rookie in MLS history to record a hat trick.
The first goal leveled the match at 1-1 early in the second half.
The second one was an equalizer, too.
Down 4-2 late, Larin put the finishing touches on his first career hat trick and the first in MLS for expansion side Orlando City with a thunderous strike.
It was a historic day for the former Husky, as pointed out by ESPN Stats and Info's Paul Carr.
Best notes from Cyle Larin's hat trick for @OrlandoCitySC yesterday. Expansion teams, Canadians, youth & @UConnMSOC: pic.twitter.com/DudQKJMDiM— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) July 27, 2015
Larin is now firmly in control of the MLS Rookie of the Year race. No other rookie has made as immediate an impact as the 20-year-old Canadian, the second-straight No. 1 pick out of UConn.
Below is a look at the leading goal scorers in Major League Soccer this season, according to the MLS website.
Orlando City has 13 matches remaining in the regular season. With nine goals in 15 matches, Larin is in a six-way tie for fourth place among the leading scorers in MLS. He is scoring at a rate of 0.84 goals per 90 minutes, the best rate in the league. And now he is on the cusp of history.
With nine goals, Larin is two away from tying the MLS rookie record for goals in a season. The record is currently held by former Chicago Fire forward Damani Ralph.
Ralph scored 28 goals and had 11 assists in two seasons at UConn. He won the 2003 Rookie of the Year award in MLS, and he continued his success in his second season.
After two seasons with Chicago, Ralph moved to Russian power Rubin Kazan. In 2006, Ralph suffered a career-ending knee injury.
Larin scored 23 goals in two seasons at UConn. He's off to a great start in MLS, and he looks like a player with European potential. He is following a similar career path as Ralph, as long as he avoids a similar injury.