Orlando City selects UA Midfielder Richie Laryea with No. 7 pick in MLS SuperDraft


Courtesy of Richie Laryea

(Left to right) Robby Dambrot, Richie Laryea, Brad Ruhaak, and Bryce Cregan at the 2016 MLS Super Draft.

By Katie King, [email protected]

At the age of six, Richie Laryea knew he had a love for soccer. Fifteen years later, he finds himself signing a professional contract with Generation Adidas while declaring for the 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft.

On Jan. 19, everything the Toronto native dreamed for himself came true. Laryea’s name was called during the first round of the SuperDraft with seventh selection overall by the Orlando City Soccer Club. Laryea described the draft experience as “a sense of relief.”

“I was so happy to be called for something I’ve been working on for my whole life,” Laryea said. “I was just really overwhelmed when hearing my name and I tried not to get emotional.”

Laryea had a breakout sophomore season in 2015, where he registered a team-best 11 goals, and ranked second in assists (seven), points (29), and game-winners (three). The star midfielder was named to the NSCAA All-America Third Team and First-Team Mid-American Conference, while earning National Player of the Week honors four times during his tenure at UA. Laryea is now the 11th Zip to have his name called in the first round of the SuperDraft.

Although he only spent two years playing at UA, he described the college experience as a life-changing one.

“I have grown more as a person solely because of the coaches at Akron who helped me so much on and off the field,” Laryea said. “Coach [Jared] Embick had sat me down and talked me through any problems I had when adapting to life at Akron.” He also said he learned from every single player he shared the locker room with.

Laryea claims his biggest fans on the field and off are by far his parents, Robert and Cynthia Laryea. “They are my biggest supporters simply because of everything they have done for me since I was growing up. Seeing how hard they work for my siblings and I made me want to do the same for them,” Laryea said.

Upon arriving in Orlando, Laryea will be reunited with close friend Cyle Larin. Larin and Laryea both started their careers with the Sigma FC club system in Toronto. “It’s amazing…Cyle’s been my best friend ever since I was nine. It’s going to be good,” said Laryea in a recent interview following the MLS SuperDraft.

Adam Najem, a former UA teammate, has nothing but support and encouragement for Laryea as he enters the professional level. “Richie had an incredible season last year, and since the first day he came to Akron, everyone knew what he was capable of,” Najem said.

“This last year he was such a huge part in why we made it as far as we did, and he was rightly rewarded by being regarded as one of the best players in the country and drafted highly to Orlando,” Najem continued. “Richie and I are very close as well. He is very humble, light-hearted, and just a very easy person to enjoy being around.”

Laryea’s career goals include becoming a regular on the Orlando City SC team as well as contributing to the team to help them win games. He plans on working hard from the minute he arrives in Orlando and ensures that he’s ready to play each day. He tells interviewers that he’s coming down to Orlando ready to work.  

Orlando City SC training began Monday, Jan. 25 in preparation for the upcoming season.