TORONTO — However he might have envisioned it, Bright Dike’s first goal as a member of Toronto FC couldn’t have been much more satisfying or vital than his 67th-minute strike in TFC’s 4-1 victory against D.C. United on Saturday afternoon.
The 26-year-old striker worked and tested D.C.’s backline constantly and was rewarded in the second half with a goal that not only ended up as the game winner, but also one that ultimately paced Toronto to their first victory in nine games.
Furthermore, it also marked the former Portland forward’s first tally since he went down with a torn left ACL in a preseason match against the Seattle Sounders in February.
“It was great to see Bright score after all he has been through,” acting TFC head coach Jim Brennan said after the match. “He has been fighting to get back into shape and he came out here and played 80 odd minutes. The boy ran his socks off today and he was rewarded with a great goal for all of the hard work that he put in.”
As for Dike himself, he is just hoping that his first goal for his new club will be a harbinger of better days for both himself and Toronto FC as a whole.
“I’m just happy to be playing and to get the three points,” Dike said. “It is definitely a good feeling. We have to keep it going now. Hopefully we can start stringing together some performances like that and become a better and more consistent team at the end of this year and next year.”
While his fantastic strike was one of several for Toronto on the afternoon, Dike admitted that his goal was also somewhat of a fortuitous one for a club that has felt hard done by with respect to the officials in recent weeks.
His goal came on a play in which fellow forward Andrew Wiedeman had been fouled and taken down by D.C. United defender Marcelo Saragosa. However, referee Ted Unkel ultimately played the advantage for TFC, setting up a play in which two newcomers in Dike and Mark Bloom linked up in an impressive fashion.
“I was very fortunate for that [decision by the referee],” Dike said. “It was just a great ball by Bloom. That’s all you can ask for. He put it on a platter for me. It was a perfect ball. He was one of the first people I ran to after I scored.”
“I think the first goal is always the hardest and you just have to keep pushing yourself for more,” Dike added. “My teammates here have been wonderful and very kind and they have really helped me out. I’m just thankful to be around good people.”