Waking The Red: It seems like Bright Dike is a very well liked player amongst Timbers fans without ever really becoming a first team regular. Why so popular, and does he have it in him to go on to be a regularly contributing player with production to match his popularity?
Stumptown Footy: As of the time of his trade, Dike was one of only three remaining holdovers from the Timbers' USL era alongside Futty Danso and Kalif Alhassan. Dike spent the better part of four seasons in Portland and in that time he gained a reputation for hard work and physical play, especially when contrasted against the nonchalant play of Designated Player Kris Boyd. Dike even managed to have his name turned into a verb (Dike, verb, to injure unintentionally while attempting to win or hold the ball) after a few players, opponents and teammates alike, picked up knocks while matched up against him. To get a better idea of why people loved Bright, you can check out our player appreciation thread here.
Given a chance to crack the starting line-up, Dike has the ability to be a fan favorite for his play, not just his personality. He will never be a superstar, nor is he likely to be the next Chris Wondolowski and suddenly compete for the golden boot, but he will give it his all in every game and he has shown that he can finish at an MLS level after putting away five goals in the last ten games of 2012.
WTR: Strengths/weaknesses. Also, are his recent injuries just bad luck or does he seem like one of those guys who'll be spending extended periods of time with the physio every year for one reason or another?
SF: Dike is fast, physical, and has a nose for the goal. With proper service from the wings, he has the ability to be a very dangerous striker, especially on a team that likes to transition quickly to the attack. Dike is not the sort of player to create his own chances, but his work rate, runs off the ball, and willingness to do whatever it takes will certainly be a boon to TFC.
If anything, the biggest grip about Dike's play is generally his technical ability. He can finish and finish well, but Dike's first touch and passing often leave something to be desired.
As far as his injury situation goes, Dike is not one to miss time due to anything other than a downright catastrophe and even then he has historically worked his tail off to return in a very impressive time frame. After rupturing his Achilles tendon in 2011, Dike was back on the pitch with the first team four and a half months later; then, after tearing his ACL this year, he was back in the reserves in just under six months and probably would have returned sooner if the Timbers hadn't gone a month without a reserve game. Dike's stocky build may make him more prone to the sort of injuries that have derailed his career so far, but he has slimmed down and come back a better, more driven player after each one.
WTR: For better or worse, we've hitched our wagon to Ryan Nelsen, and there seem to be 3 constants for the forwards to deal with under his 'system'. A lot of long balls to chase down or to try win headers and hold the ball up, a lot of 'get it wide and throw a cross into the box' and practically no service coming through the middle. Can Dike work with that style of play?
SF: Frankly, that might be the best style of play for Dike. A physically gifted player, Dike is at his best when he is being called on to work, work, work, and work some more. He wears his opponents down, bangs them up, and eventually gets some separation to put a shot on goal (like he did here against Real Salt Lake last year). His goals are rarely pretty, but they all count.
Thanks William, can't help but think if he stays fit (and we don't trade him away for something ridiculous) he could become very popular over here as well.