It's been a big week for Daryl Dike.
Orlando City SC's first-round MLS 2020 SuperDraft selection made his professional debut last weekend, in which he delivered a goal and an assist against Inter Miami CF. He started his side's next match on Wednesday, bagging a brace en route to an Orlando win vs. Nashville SC. He stayed in the starting lineup on Saturday, picking up another assist in Orlando's first-ever win against Atlanta United.
That's three goals and two assists in 242 regular season MLS minutes if you're counting at home.
“Daryl is doing very well," head coach Oscar Pareja told reports on a virtual press conference on Monday. "He’s a young player who has absorbed all the information in the best way, and fast. He has rapidly taken responsibility, concepts and ideas of our game and implemented into his game. He’s been very productive.”
Orlando City's Daryl Dike 1st goal vs. Nashville | Enhanced Highlight
Dike's breakout gives Pareja another option in attack.
Dom Dwyer entered the season as Orlando's presumed starting center forward, but injuries delayed the start to his season and already ended it, after undergoing knee surgery about a month ago. Tesho Akindele assumed the role and impressed for much of Orlando's run to the MLS is Back Tournament final, but then picked up a knock which opened the door for Dike.
Pareja reports that Akindele is available again ahead of their match against Nashville SC on Wednesday (8:30 pm ET | MLS Live on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada). Competition for places in Pareja's upstart Orlando City intensifies, after a group that didn't include stars like Nani and Mauricio Pereyra impressed in the win over Atlanta this weekend.
Why Daryl Dike is Orlando City's answer up top | Top Tier
“We’re really proud of the effort that Benji (Michel), Daryl and Chris (Mueller) gave, brought us that energy. Andres Perea, too," Pareja said. "We have a depth in the group, anyone can do what we ask to do. It’s a luxury to rest some of the guys who had been more of regulars in the lineup and at the same time get a result at a difficult place. It’s exciting.”
With new signing Matheus Aias joining the team at some point in the near future, a seemingly thin center forward position due to injuries this year will suddenly soon be four deep. For the rest of the season, Pareja will have Dike, Akindele and Aias to select from.
Aias, who was acquired by Orlando from Watford on August 21, has yet to travel to Florida as he awaits his visa. Pareja doesn't have a timetable for when he'll travel, then enter mandatory quarantine, before he'll be available for selection, though.
“With Matheus, Tesho and Dike — then Dominic when he comes back — we’ll have four good players in that position," Pareja said. "We’ll be fine.”