TORONTO — While he may have left a club fighting for a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs for one that will miss almost certainly miss out for a 7th straight year, Toronto FC newcomer Bright Dike isn’t sweating the move from the Portland Timbers to TFC.
In fact, he's embracing it.
“I’m excited for a new start,” Dike told MLSsoccer.com. “Injuries have been tough [recently], but I’ve always seemed to bounce back. Hopefully this is a new start and a new beginning and hopefully great things will come from that.”
Dike, 26, has endured a tough year to date after suffering a torn ACL during the preseason. He has not appeared in any regular season games for the Timbers but did play 80 minutes in a Timbers Reserve League game last week and says his rehabbed left knee "feels good."
However, even with TFC currently sitting in 9th place in the Eastern Conference on 22 points, Toronto’s newest striker does not see any reason why the future cannot be bright for both him and his new club.
WATCH: Bright Dike speaks to media
“Last year at Portland we were in the same boat,” Dike said. “We didn’t have a good season at all and now you can look at how they have done this year. So I know how quickly things can change. It is a fine line between good and great. If everybody buys in and is ready to work hard, then it will all change because I have seen that happen.”
Even though he has only had a couple of days to adjust to being with his new club, the American-born Nigerian international was quick to express his excitement about lacing up his boots for Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen.
“They told me about the trade after the game [on Saturday] and my immediate thought was that Nelsen is a really good coach,” Dike explained. “I went to Notre Dame and [current Notre Dame and former Stanford head coach] Bobby Clark coached him. So I have actually known him and followed him throughout the years. I’m pretty happy and excited for that.”
It appears the feeling is mutual, as Nelsen used equally effusive language to describe his newest player on Tuesday.
“Bright brings something that we just don’t have in terms of his pace and power,” Nelsen said. “He is a piece of the jigsaw at the moment and looking forward that we didn’t previously have.”
Dike, which means "strength" in the Nigerian language of Igbo, certainly evokes the type of characteristic that TFC supporters are now hoping their newest striker will bring to their club.
“If you haven’t seen me play, you can just look at me and tell that I am big, strong, athletic, fast and an aerial threat as well,” Dike said. “You can look for me to play a No. 9 role and help this team out. Hopefully I am another weapon that (Nelsen) can use.”
Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.