"I just grabbed the ball:" Daryl Dike on replacing Nani for Orlando PK duties

For Daryl Dike, there wasn't a lot of contemplation in his decision to take what turned out to be a crucial penalty kick in Orlando City SC's 2-2 draw with Nashville SC on Wednesday night.

“When the ref blew the whistle, I just grabbed the ball,” Dike explained in a press conference following the match. “I was confident that I wanted to score the goal and help spark the comeback and so, I just grabbed the ball and wanted to put it in the back of the net.”

By doing just that in the 76th minute, Dike sparked a point-salvaging comeback that culminated with a stoppage-time corner kick that saw Nani find Benji Michel, with Brian Anunga ultimately assessed with an own goal that leveled the match.

The result allowed the Lions to halt a four-match losing streak that put their Audi MLS Cup Playoffs positioning in peril, and potentially delivered some momentum heading into the team’s crucial Saturday matchup with D.C. United (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). While Orlando dropped to seventh in the standings with their draw, they’re bunched with three other teams on 39 points – and just a point below their next opponents, who vaulted to third in the East by virtue of their 3-1 win over Minnesota.

Penalty kicks have been a thorn in OCSC’s side in recent times, most recently on Saturday, where they had the chance to draw Supporters’ Shield leaders New England late. However, Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner stopped Nani for the second time from the spot – the first being in last year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs matchup.

Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja was pleased to get the result on Wednesday, particularly as it positively involved Nani in the match following his failed conversion.

"It is important, as we say the players working that hard,” Pareja reflected. “When we went to New England, we had a pretty good match. We couldn't get the result and we lost a PK with a player for us that is very important and is our captain.

“Today, having him again in the field and seeing how he contributed to this point and how he helped us to tie the game, I know those emotions came in the group,” he added. “They're very united. I join in that joy, to represent what they have done to try keep moving up despite those results that were hard.”

Dike also recognized the importance of the result against one of the East’s top teams.

“Recently, you know, we've left the field with a sour taste in our mouths," Dike said. "After the New England game, I think we competed very well and we walked out of the game, even though we had not gotten any points, [we were] thinking, okay, this is going to be when we start changing. We come into this match, even after going down, we still knew that today was going to be the day that we were going to get a result, that we were going to change things.

“Coming into the end of the season, this is what we wanted,” he added. “You want people to start pushing and getting that desire again. And I think with these results, and with these next few games towards the end of the season, it's exactly what we needed. I couldn't be more proud for the results that we had today and the effort that we gave.”