Forward Daryl Dike recently returned to the pitch for Major League Soccer side Orlando City after sustaining a heavy injury while on international duty with the United States men’s national team during the Gold Cup.
After a loan spell with Barnsley in 2020, he returned to kick off the 2021 season with the Lions and recorded two goals and one assist before an injury halted his ambitions. While on international duty with the USMNT at the Gold Cup, Dike damaged his shoulder and missed nearly two months of action.
He finally returned to the pitch in purple on August 27 against Inter Miami as a sub with one goal in mind: help the team.
“For me, it’s just how can I do what I normally do — that’s bringing the team up, scoring goals, doing whatever I can do to help the team, whether it be the assists, the goals, the runs, everything,” Dike said (via the Orlando Sentinel) following training on Wednesday.
“For me, that’s how I always play, it’s not always about the goals. I think at the end of the day, if I’m up top the goals will come. So for me, it’s just how can I help the team to win and being a problem for the other team as well.”
The forward also gave a brief injury update and explained the impact of his time away.
“It was just making sure I get back to full fitness and getting healthy again,” he said. “I enjoy playing games. This break, I think it was good for me. It allowed me to regroup mentally, it allowed me to regroup physically. Now I have another fresh restart halfway through the season.”
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja backed the forward and added words of encouragement on his return to the pitch.
“Last game he was feeling much better and he got 45 minutes and now he’s ready,” Pareja noted. “He has trained much better during the week, he has been connected again with his teammates and I’m happy for that. I think he’s a very important piece of our team.”
Dike doesn’t take the support lightly, adding that a healthy relationship with Pareja makes him want to work harder and better for the team.
“We have a very very good relationship and I think it’s great that he can be honest with me, I can be honest with him. He told me about how he values me in terms of helping the team out in training and in games and to help push things,” Dike said.
“He believes in me, he believes that I have a different piece that to offer than you know some other players. It’s great to have that trust between you and your coach, and it kind of makes you want to work extra hard for him.”