Former Virginia men’s soccer powerhouse, Daryl Dike has been fulfilling his childhood dream of playing professionally after being selected fifth overall by Orlando City in the MLS SuperDraft in January. Dike has excelled in his transition from college and finally debuted for Orlando city in the team’s fourth game, resulting in a 1-0 victory over Montreal Impact.
“It felt fantastic to get my first minutes on the field,” said Dike. “When you’re younger and you’re a little athlete, you know, you’re always sitting there thinking about becoming professional and that’s kind of your whole dream and all of the work that you’ve done –that everyone around you has done– has kind of built up to this moment and it makes you feel like you kind of made it a little bit”
At Virginia, Dike led the team in scoring for both of his years and was the first double-digit goal scorer since 2012 for the Cavaliers this past year. He was also named the NCAA College Cup’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player in 2019 after scoring three goals in two games. To say he will be missed by the program is an understatement, but his former teammates, including Virginia midfielder Spencer Patton, could not be more proud of his continued hard work.
“Daryl is one of my best friends both on and off the field. It was really tough seeing him leave and I know a lot of people miss him. Watching him make his debut for Orlando City definitely put a big smile on my face because I see how hard he’s been working and how difficult it can be mentally dealing with the pressure of being the young guy on the team. However, clearly his work has been paying off because seeing minutes in a professional game, playing alongside international stars such as Nani, are no easy tasks. I know Daryl well enough to be confident that he will have a breakout season coming soon.”said Patton
Orlando City is one of 24 teams in the MLS is Back tournament in ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Bay Lake, Florida near Orlando. As a rookie, Dike was excited to get started, but the pandemic has made his experience far from normal. “We get into this hotel and we’re testing every other day to make sure everyone’s negative and then it’s almost like we’re all quarantining together” said Dike. He credited his new team and coaches for his accelerated preparedness to take his talent to the next level. While the transition was lonely at first due to COVID-19 regulations keeping him from his family and anyone outside the training bubble, the 20-year-old power forward has remained positive, knowing there is little to do right now but work hard and learn from each new experience with the team.
“Obviously everyone can do their part whether it be wearing masks, whether it be quarantining or stuff like that, but in the grand scheme of things, you know, you probably won’t be able to completely affect the virus, so I think you just deal with what you’re dealt with” said Dike “I personally look forward to just kind of continuing, you know, growing, getting better as a player, learning a lot more, and then obviously winning more”
Daryl looks to finish the season strong as Orlando City enters their final game of the event tonight at 8:30 PST vs. Portland.