The 20-year-old forward has been one of the top stories of the MLS offseason due to the red-hot start to his loan with Barnsley FC in the English Championship, where he's scored five goals in his first 11 games and helped spearhead the club's recent surge up the table. While that has led to speculation that Dike might be in Europe to stay, Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja and company have maintained hope that he will re-join the Lions at the end of his loan in May.
If he does, his experiences in England can only be a positive for an aspirational Orlando team.
"Daryl, as you see, he has done great. Just the experience of being there in the Championship and this environment, he has adjusted immediately," Pareja told reporters on a video conference call. "Scoring five goals in 11 games in the middle of the competition with the pressure is tremendous for Daryl.
"So we're very happy for him and he went to a team that has a different style of playing," he continued. "Now there have been rumors of interest and things like that. We knew that that would happen, but at this point, we're just enjoying watching one more young American succeed in Europe in a very competitive league. I think he shows the whole world how much talent we have here and we are very proud of that."
Pareja said that the club is "waiting on the days" for Dike's return, but in the meantime are preparing for at least a few games without him in attack. New signing Alexandre Pato is someone Pareja is hoping to rely on, and the head coach said the Brazilian is adjusting well after picking up his first preseason minutes and scoring a goal in Orlando's 3-2 exhibition defeat to NYCFC.
"His attitude has been very good, a tremendous professional and asked us to get involved in the game," Pareja said of Pato. "We considered that it was a good moment to give him some minutes and in the second half he came in and not just played well but scored a goal. So he's made us even more optimistic about what he can contribute with to the team. It was good. It's a good start. Hopefully in the next weeks we can work him up on his fitness and adjust him to our game model. That way he can be even more important."