During the 2013 season, things were going incredibly well for Bright Dike. After moving from the Portland Timbers to Toronto FC, he had very much impressed in his short stint in the city. Even with Gilberto and Jermain Defoe incoming, Dike looked like an excellent option to come off the bench and use his powerful frame to once again antagonize MLS defenses.
It wasn't just that either. Dike had broken into the Nigerian national team, no easy feat, and was impressing with them as well. He played two games, and scored a goal in a 2-2 friendly draw with Italy. He would have made the Nigerian team that played in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, had it not been for a torn Achilles tendon that occurred in a February practice.
The injury put an end to any sort of World Cup aspirations, and made him unlikely for anything resembling an impactful return to the Toronto FC lineup. All of the sudden his promising future was in doubt.
Ultimately, he returned far earlier than expected to the Toronto roster. For a player who was supposed to miss all but the final matches of the season, a mid- August return was promising. Many felt that he was the type of player who could awake Toronto's suddenly dormant offense and help save their playoff chances.
Instead, the biggest highlight from Dike's season was an attempted shot from outside of the box which ultimately resulted in his shoe finding the back of the net, while the ball skittered wide. After that, he largely disappeared as neither Ryan Nelsen, nor the incoming Greg Vanney seemed to rate him.
There is a chance his injury was still causing him some discomfort and that he wasn't training up to the standards of either manager. But he was generally listed as healthy for the majority of the team's matches and otherwise just kind of disappeared. The media never really questioned the team about his status, either. He quickly became one of the biggest mysteries surrounding a generally mysterious team.
In all, Dike played only 19 minutes in two substitute appearances off the bench. Even getting on the bench seemed like an accomplishment for Dike this season, as it rarely happened. Considering how few attacking options the team had at times this year, his exclusion from the roster is even more concerning in terms of his future with the club.
In general, chances Bright Dike will be back next year are pretty slim. He will almost certainly go unprotected in the expansion draft, and there is a good chance one of New York City FC or Orlando City will select him. In terms of attacking options, he is likely to be one of the most promising in the draft, even if there is uncertainty attached to him.
What he brings to the table is why he is such a good fit in this league. He is a strong, physical, striker with decent pace who can muscle his way through defenders. He is also fairly skilled for a target man of his ilk. Toronto really could have used a player like that this year, although for whatever reason they weren't interested in using Dike.