In December, I wrote a piece for The Mane Land speaking about how Daryl Dike could benefit from Orlando City signing an experienced striker. However, given the the activity of the Lions in the MLS SuperDraft, my opinion on that matter has shifted slightly. Orlando City traded $100,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) to the Portland Timbers for the No. 8 overall pick in the draft and filled the slot with Georgetown striker Derek Dodson.
The 23-year-old comes with an abundance of promise to his name and if his potential is realized in MLS as it was through college, he could be the man to challenge Dike in the forthcoming season and those thereafter.
Dodson had an incredibly successful time in college, scoring a load of goals and serving as one of three captains for Georgetown, which won the 2019 College Cup over Dike and Virginia in penalties. The Illinois-born forward has shown impressive potency in front of the net in the early stages of his career and that skillset is often not mastered until the latter stages of a player’s career.
Of course, it is worth noting that there is a major gulf in class between college soccer and MLS. However, as was previously mentioned, the ability to score goals could be one that translates to the professional level if Dodson’s involvement in the crucial moments is anything to go by. Scoring 10 game-winning goals could be indicative that Dodson thrives under pressure.
If so, the 23-year-old striker could be the man directly behind Dike in the pecking order as long as he catches the eye of Oscar Pareja more than his counterparts. Orlando City now has four options in the area — Dike, Dodson, Tesho Akindele, and Matheus Aias — so competition seems to be inevitable. There realistically does not appear to be any need for another striker at the club — not even an experienced one. It will be interesting to see if Dodson is capable of jumping ahead of Akindele and Aias, who currently sit behind the big man.
Dodson doing well would be highly beneficial for the Lions as the jury is still out on Aias and Akindele is a second choice in the position. The Canadian does not seem as though he is ever going to push Dike to continue to perform. Akindele appears to serve as an option for the dying embers of a match when Orlando is desperate to score. The Georgetown product, however, may turn out to be more than that with the goal-scoring instinct shown in his career thus far.
If Dodson can hit the ground running and impress Pareja in training by maintaining his college performance, he could be the man to pressure Dike in 2021. Who knows? Maybe one day he could be the future starter in the position. That’s the beauty of the SuperDraft. Let’s see what happens. The better Dodson does, the better off Orlando City will be, especially if Dike continues to progress and is eventually lured away to Europe.