Daryl Dike was the jewel of Orlando City’s 2020 draft class after falling to the Lions with the fifth overall pick back in January. Coming out of the University of Virginia, the young striker was seen by many as the top player in the draft, but he somehow fell to Orlando.
After the season Dike has had, MIami, Nashville, and Vancouver will all be kicking themselves, as he’s become one of the top young forwards in all of Major League Soccer.
Dike wasn’t expected to play a major role in his first professional season, but an early injury to Dom Dwyer during the MLS is Back Tournament gave the young striker his opportunity. He made his debut against the Montreal Impact in the MLS is Back round of 16, although it was a brief 15-minute cameo. He played two more times in that tournament, playing 19 and 12 minutes against LAFC and Portland, respectively.
Once the MLS regular season resumed, Dike truly shined. He made his first two starts against Miami and Nashville when the season restarted and played well enough to earn August’s MLS Player of the Month Award.
In all, he scored eight goals and provided four assists over 17 appearances, including 15 starts. His output is even more impressive when you take into account he only played 1,224 minutes, putting his combined goals and assists per 90 minutes at a very impressive 0.88. He also registered 30 shots, putting 12 of them on frame.
He completed an impressive 71% of his passes, though his creative passing was good with seven key passes to complement his four assists. On the ball he was productive as well, completing 12 of 19 attempted dribbles. His defensive output was also good for a striker, as he completed six out of 10 tackles while also making 17 clearances, a blocked shot, and an interception. He committed 25 fouls and drew 30 from the opposition, going the entire regular season without a booking.
He made three appearances (no starts) in the MLS is Back knockout stages, playing a total of 46 minutes without a goal or assist, attempting two shots but getting neither on target. He passed at a 62.5% rate and created one scoring chance, and contributed two tackles. He committed four fouls without drawing any in his earliest professional minutes, and picked up a yellow card against Montreal.
In the postseason, he largely disappeared. He started both matches, playing 173 minutes, but did not contribute directly to any goals, though he did complete three dribbles. He had a shot on target in three total attempts, as well as a key pass and won four aerials — all four against New England. Dike committed four fouls while drawing five, and earned one yellow card.
Dike’s best performance of the season came in a late season clash with northern rivals Atlanta United. He was a dominant presence all game, giving former Best XI center back Miles Robinson fits for his entire 79-minute shift. He finished with a goal and assist on the night, while also winning two out of three attempted dribbles and completing 12 of his 13 passes.
Our Marcus Mitchell had this to say of the rookie’s game:
The rookie got his sixth consecutive start and sixth goal of the season, turning and scoring in front of goal to give Orlando the lead in the 29th minute. Dike’s confidence after scoring showed as he continued to muscle past defenders and give Atlanta nightmares. He was frankly unstoppable when running at goal and that helped him find Tesho Akindele in front of goal to log his fourth assist of the season.
On Orlando City’s 29th-minute goal to open the scoring, Ruan cut in from the right and passed to Dike in the middle. The rookie turned away from pressure and fired home his sixth goal of the season.
Dike won the ball back with good high pressure and then found Akindele in front for the Lions’ third goal on the night, picking up his assist.
His impact transcended the scoresheet as his intelligent play and physical prowess had the Five Stripes out of sorts all night, helping propel to Orlando to a signature 4-1 victory at Exploria Stadium.
2020 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Daryl Dike a 7 for his breakout first season in professional soccer. He was streaky at times and played under 1,500 minutes, but he still exceeded any and all expectations and is one of the top young players in the entirety of MLS, finishing third in Young Player of The Year voting — though he was screwed out of Rookie of the Year — and received his first call-up to the United States Men’s National Team in December, though he couldn’t play due to an injury in training.
Dike is under contract for next season and will almost certainly be Orlando’s starting center forward heading into 2021. There are rumors floating around that Belgian giants Club Brugge are interested, Orlando is not expected to sell the big striker unless a major bid were to come in. He’ll likely miss time for the Lions regardless as he looks to play a major role in a potential U.S. U-23 side in the Olympics or potentially the senior national team in a very crowded 2021 schedule for the USMNT.
If he continues to play the way he did in 2020, the 2021 season could be when Dike makes a name for himself not just in MLS, but on the global stage as well.
Previous Seasons in Review (Date Posted)
- Jordan Bender (12/2)
- Alex De John (12/3)
- Kamal Miller (12/4)
- Matheus Aias (12/5)
- Alexander Alvarado (12/6)
- Antonio Carlos (12/7)
- Joey DeZart (12/8)
- Dom Dwyer (12/9)
- Kyle Smith (12/10)
- Tesho Akindele (12/11)
- Santiago Patino (12/12)
- Robinho (12/13)
- Rodrigo Schlegel (12/14)
- Sebas Mendez (12/14)
- Brian Rowe (12/15)
- Benji Michel (12/15)
- Robin Jansson (12/16)
- Uri Rosell (12/17)
- Andres Perea (12/18)
- Pedro Gallese (12/18)
- David Loera (12/19)
- Joao Moutinho (12/20)
- Chris Mueller (12/21)
- Ruan (12/21)