Daryl Dike’s meteoric rise continued in 2021, with the forward ranking second in MLSsoccer.com’s annual 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR Rankings, featuring the top players in the league under the age of 22.
After finishing 10th following a promising rookie season, Dike’s stock went to the next level this year. The Oklahoma native began his campaign in England, with Orlando City loaning the promising forward to Barnsley FC of the English Championship for the remainder of the Tykes’ 2020/21 season. Dike hauled the club onto his back for three months, taking them from 12th in the table when he arrived to fifth at season’s end, granting them a berth in the Championship’s year-end playoffs for a spot in the prestigious English Premier League. The striker scored nine times in 22 appearances in all competitions, putting him on the global radar.
As it turns out, his performance put him on the national team radar as well. Dike was not selected to the United States Men’s National Team squad for the CONCACAF Nations League due to a roster squeeze, but head coach Gregg Berhalter deemed him important enough to bring regardless, and the young forward was on the field to celebrate the Americans’ dramatic triumph over Mexico in the final. Dike would then score his first national team goal a few days later in a post-tournament friendly against Costa Rica.
After a cameo with Orlando City in late June and early July, during which he notched a brace against San Jose Earthquakes, Dike was then picked as the top striker for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. His tournament got off to a terrific start when he scored twice in a win over Martinique, but a shoulder injury suffered in the final group stage game against Canada limited his effectiveness for the knockouts. Still, Dike ended his summer with eight international caps and three goals, putting him well in the picture going forward.
Upon his return to Orlando, Dike was given a month off to rehab his shoulder injury and take something of an extended rest for the first time since his pro debut last July at the MLS is Back Tournament. He has since picked up right where he left off, scoring in each of Orlando City’s last three games, including a titanic header at the death to lift the Lions to a huge victory over D.C. United on October 2:
In total, Dike has scored 14 goals in 29 career MLS regular-season appearances for Orlando City, a rate that would put him amongst the elite strikers in the league. In 2021 alone, Dike has bagged 18 goals in 42 games for club and country.