Daryl Dike will take hectic

Daryl Dike returned home after four months in England to hook up with the U.S. national team.

He wasn't on the roster for the Concacaf Nations League, but he got his first start for the USA on Wednesday and scored his first international goal in the 4-0 win over Costa Rica in Utah.

Dike, who turned 21 last week, put himself in the national team picture with a breakout season as a rookie out of the University of Virginia for Orlando City (eight goals in 17 games) and then a remarkable loan spell at English Championship club Barnsley (nine goals in 19 games).

The toughest decision Gregg Berhalter had to make on his Concacaf Nations League roster was leave Dike off the team in favor of Josh Sargent and Jordan Siebatcheu, but Dike traveled with the team, beginning with its camp in Switzerland.

“We know Daryl is a handful," said Berhalter after the win over Costa Rica. "We purposely played direct from goal kicks to him to put the center backs under pressure. You saw his movement behind the line on the goal."

Mark McKenzie played a through ball that cut out the Tico backline, allowing Dike to run on to the ball and beat Costa Rica keeper Leonel Moreira.

“Daryl got an opportunity tonight," added Berhalter, "and I think he did really well. The physical side of it was there, the movement in behind the backline was there. The only thing I would highlight is potentially the movement in the penalty box, really attacking crosses and getting on the end of crosses. But Daryl’s a young player, and he has a ton of room to grow, and we're going to be here and helping support him to get there."

Dike, whose brother and sister both played for Nigeria internationally, used the opportunity to be around the team for more than two weeks to his advantage.

"Of course, I wanted to be included in the roster," he said, "but I also recognize the quality of the players we have. And we got the job done. For me, it was just another sign for me to just continue to improve. I think today, getting the opportunity to start and get more minutes, it was a great feeling to be included. For all the work I’ve put together with the group over these past weeks, it’s great to go out there and get a win and get my first goal as well.”

Dike will return to Orlando City after Barnsley, which lost its promotion bid, didn't exercise its purchase option. Whether he is still with the Lions when European clubs  open camp next month remains to be seen.

“In terms of thinking about what’s next," he said, "I do what I’ve always done with Orlando, Barnsley and the national team. I’ve always taken things step by step and let the things that might be out of my control happen behind the scenes and work on what I can control, whether that is training as hard as I can every day or competing in matches."

A year ago, Dike still had not debuted for Orlando City -- he didn't play his first game until after the MLS is Back Tournament ended in August -- so the speed at which his career has taken off might seem dizzying.

"During the entire year," he said, "I have been fortunate to have had some success at all the levels I have been playing and to have played with some great players, some great coaches and continue to grow. I think in terms of my career at the start it was hectic and I kind of enjoyed it."

10 comments about "Daryl Dike will take hectic".
  1. Peter Bechtold, June 11, 2021 at 1:13 p.m.

    Let's hope that he learns better than Jozy Altidore who has a similar physique and similar youth history, but never learned to develop a soccer brain re positioning, making angular runs,etc. He has the advantage of Nigerian elders, although his brother fizzled out at Portland Timbers years ago.

  2. James Madison, June 11, 2021 at 5:42 p.m.

    He's quicker than the lumbering Altidore.

  3. Tom Swan, June 11, 2021 at 6:45 p.m.

    He needs to be (much) quicker still. At times he appeared to be moving too slow in the box and not firing shots quick enough. In the box, and often the final third, you only have half the time you think you do.

  4. Wooden Ships replied, June 11, 2021 at 6:50 p.m.

    Same observation here. Quick feet, light on your feet, but still strong enough to shield that milli second. 

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, June 12, 2021 at 3:25 a.m.

    Funny I was impressed by his calmness on the ball when scoring the goal. I think Coach John Wooden's famous instruction to "play quick, but don't hurry" applies just as well to soccer as basketball.

  6. Bob Ashpole, June 12, 2021 at 3:21 a.m.

    In my view, he is already the forward that Altidore's coaches hoped for. He looks like he was designed for CONCACAF qualifying.

    He is so young. He and Sargent have another 5 years of development yet.

    This young team really, really needs to go to the finals this cycle. 

  7. John Polis, June 12, 2021 at 6:39 a.m.

    Reminds me of Clyde Best (Bermuda, West Ham United, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Portland Timbers) in the 70s. Imposes his will on defenders, comfortable going forward or back to the goal, shields the ball and holds up play well. Really exciting prospect. 

  8. humble 1, June 14, 2021 at 8:40 a.m.

    Dike's competition will always be himself.  He is so different from Altidore, cannot compare.  For sure he can learn from Altidore, who is more
    than 10 years his senior, that would be good, otherwise, find your own way.  Biggest challenge for him at the moment is MLS, the Entity, becoming a stumbling block rather than enabler for his next step.  Wish him all the best, fure sure, opportunity is there.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, June 15, 2021 at 1:28 a.m.

    I was thinking of Dempsey as a much better role model than Altidore. Even in a crowd, Dempsey was always dangerous.

  10. Charles Davenport, July 1, 2021 at 6:34 p.m.

    So he's no Lukaku? Still pretty good! Additionally, it's all about system and supporting cast--- Altidore scored 31 goals for a Dutch (?) team....

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