Daryl Dike kicks off championship while Orlando City waits
Through Jason davis – WASHINGTON, DC (April 23, 2021) American Soccer Players – It’s getting silly now. What started out as a 20-year-old American striker with just a partial year of work experience to secure an opportunity is now something else. Daryl Dike’s move to Barnsley just a few months ago is now a phenomenon. It could change the fortunes of the player and the club he joined on what appeared to be a low-key loan.
First, the raw numbers. Oklahoma-born Orlando City forward Daryl Dike now has nine goals in 16 appearances for Barnsley Football Club, a comeback that gives the former University of Virginia player 0.75 goals in every 90 minutes in England. With his latest goal, an aerial kick that found the net against Huddersfield Town, Dike pushed his league tally past the eight goals he scored for Orlando City last season.
Dike’s last was an eye-popper. As if to prove a point about the different ways he can score, Dike acrobatically threw himself in and slammed Barnsley’s lone goal in what was a crucial victory. Dike plays games without scoring, but his goals are frequent enough that it’s hard to remember. His exit helps push Barnsley into the playoff picture.
That’s 17 goals in 26 professional games. With these kinds of goals, the production attracts the attention of many circles. For USMNT fans, Dike’s rise as a goalscorer makes him an intriguing possibility for important games later this year. Orlando City fans may dream of Dike returning to central Florida and helping the Lions push for an MLS Cup championship this season.
Obviously, that depends on Dike’s return to MLS. Dike’s incredible journey in England has piqued the interest of the richest clubs in the country. Even before his recent scoring streak, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Orlando City turned down a $ 10 million transfer offer for him.
Logic says that the more goals Dike scores, the higher the price will be. For now, Orlando’s choice to pass on the first offer seems wise. Dike’s transfer value is clearly on the rise.
Three weeks ago, sources in Orlando City reaffirmed the club’s intention to hold $ 20 million for Dike. At the time, that number seemed designed to gauge any interest and ensure that Dike will be back in Florida. Now, getting what would be a record amount for an American player seems very possible. Even concerns that Dike’s numbers do not accurately reflect his talent via the modern metric of expected goals are unlikely to dampen enthusiasm around his talent. Just imagine Barnsley could even trigger the buy clause in the loan deal with Orlando, should the Tykes break through the Premier League.
A little background. Barnsley’s record-breaking transfer fee is £ 1.5million paid for striker Gjorgji Hristov in 1999. To say Dike would represent a new level of commitment for the club would be an understatement. Dike is a unique combination of skill, athleticism and youthfulness.
Orlando’s math was never going to be easy, but the opening weekend of the 2021 MLS season made it a bit trickier. With Dike on loan and the Lions parting ways with Dom Dwyer in the offseason, Orlando hired forward Alexandre Pato to close the gap at the top.
Pato arrived in MLS after a stint in his native Brazil. At 31, Pato’s story is one of brief flashes of immense talent followed by injuries and inconsistencies. Orlando’s decision to bring him to America was a gamble for talent to outweigh the problem that plagued him throughout his twenties. Now 31, Pato is a player with a big name who stepped on the heels of Orlando’s famous first signing, Kaka, and current roster renowned talent, Nani.
Pato lasted 78 minutes after starting his first MLS game. After jumping over a challenge from Franco Ibarra of Atlanta United, the Brazilian awkwardly landed and fell to the ground. Head coach Oscar Pareja has replaced his new signing, leaving Lion Nation to question Pato’s status during the first part of the season.
The good news is that Pato doesn’t require surgery. The bad news for Orlando is that he will likely miss several weeks to recover from what the team have described as a “lower body injury”.
“We are waiting and God just help us on Pato and [that] he is not injured, ”Pareja said. “We will wait for the doctors to diagnose it. We also have other players. We don’t want to lose any and one of the things that probably hurts the most from a manager’s point of view is seeing any player get injured. So let’s wait, but now we must continue. This is only the start of the season.
Even if the Brazilian striker returns to the fold in no time, his story should give Pareja and Orlando fans pause. Without Pato, the club are extremely thin at the center-forward position. Dike won’t be back in Orlando until mid-May at the earliest and may need a period of quarantine and rest before he’s ready to adjust to MLS games.
Of course, there’s also the question of a potential transfer for Dike looming. While Pato has joined in to help cover Dike until May and if / when the club have accepted a transfer offer, an injury in the season opener puts the plan in question.
It boggles the mind that the Lions would turn down a record-breaking offer for Dike. Whatever the club’s determination or belief that Dike is crucial to a successful 2021 season, every player has a price. At some point, the attacker’s market will be at its peak and Orlando will risk missing out on an opportunity.
This is the new MLS. In a league that restricts spending through salary budget rules and membership restrictions, clubs will face tough choices. Selling a player and reaping the financial windfall can hurt the chances of a championship. Retaining a player can mean missing payday. Thanks to Daryl Dike’s stupidity, the choice of Orlando is getting more complicated from week to week.
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Photo by Isaac Parkin – PA Wire via ZUMA Press – ISIPhotos.com