Dike’s Portland Potential has a Fresh Start in Toronto

Midfielder traded to the Reds for Max Urruti
by Ray Marcham   |   Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Green Logs – column on Portland Timbers (PTFC) & the Portland, Oregon area soccer scene.

The shock hit the Timbers Army early on Monday morning, as Bright Dike tweeted his goodbyes to Portland.

The forward was traded, along with Portland’s lowest 1st round draft pick in the 2015 SuperDraft and allocation money, to Toronto FC on Monday in exchange for Argentinian forward Max Urruti, who was with the Reds for their match with the Timbers on Saturday night. Urruti stayed behind after the match and was at training with the Timbers on Monday morning. Dike confirmed his departure with an early morning tweet.

In the 4 years that Dike had been with the Timbers, he had become one of the club’s most popular players. But he also struggled with injuries, tearing his Achilles tendon in the Timbers’ 1st preseason match in 2011 and his ACL in his right knee in another preseason match earlier this year.

But when he did play, Dike showed those glimpses of talent that quickly made him a fan favorite during rookie year in 2010. In Portland’s last season in the 2nd division, he scored 10 goals and showed a raw talent that fans were sure would translate to success in MLS. In fact, Dike was one of the Timbers’ 1st 4 MLS signings as they got ready for their return to top-flight status in 2011. It looked like he was a steal, having been cut by Columbus before signing with Portland. The future looked, well, bright.

Then came the Achilles injury in the opening preseason game in 2011. He recovered and made his MLS debut in August, making a minor impact before the season ended.

The following year, it looked like Dike was coming back to form. He scored 6 goals for the Los Angeles Blues of USL PRO while on loan, and soon was called back to the Timbers after Gavin Wilkinson took over as manager for the fired John Spencer. In the final 11 matches of the 2012 season, Dike scored 5 goals and was making his case to be a major contributor for the Timbers for when manager Caleb Porter would arrive from Akron.

The usual skepticism in the club vs. country debate among Timbers fans was even suspended for Dike, as they celebrated his call up to the Nigerian Men’s National Team after the 2012 season. The RCTID twittersphere lit up when he scored in a friendly against Catalonia in Barcelona, and while he didn’t make the final Nigerian roster for the African Cup of Nations, there was a feeling that he would be seeing more call-ups in the future from the Super Eagles.

But after he injured his knee in a preseason match against Seattle in Arizona, the hopes of Dike becoming a major player on the Timbers were dashed. As he recovered, Portland got better, with the forward depth becoming deeper. With Darlington Nagbe and Ryan Johnson regularly starting, Jose Valencia gaining more playing time and Frederic Piquionne ready to come back from injury, Dike’s possibility of playing time had been greatly diminished. While he returned to the field in a reserve game against Real Salt Lake on Aug. 31, he was not on the 18-player roster for the Toronto match on Saturday. Two days later, he had been traded to the Reds.

In a sense, Dike will be going to a club as snake-bitten in their search for success as he has been in his career. Toronto has not made the MLS playoffs since their 2007 debut, and this season will be no exception. The club is going through another front office shakeup, and the Dike trade is being seen as getting rid of a player favored by former TFC President/GM Kevin Payne, but not by coach Ryan Nelsen. But Toronto’s lack of a consistent scorer could give Dike the chance to become a regular starter for the Reds. If he can finally tap his potential, and stays away from injury, he could be a big star that the long-suffering TFC faithful can latch on to.

Many members of the Timbers Army kept wondering what Bright Dike would be like if he had a full season of good health. All of that potential is now in Toronto, where he has the opportunity to become what many in Portland believed he could be.

And if he fulfills his massive potential, and stays injury free, fans in Toronto red and Portland green will be cheering his success.

NEXT UP: September 14 – Portland Timbers vs. Chivas USA, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 10:30 p.m. EST, ROOT Sports (NW), MLS Live.


Washington State
Club Domestic:
Portland Timbers
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Cascadia native and a fan for as long as he can remember, Ray was brought up on the old NASL. Learned to love MLS. Wanted to play like Clive Charles. Then like Tony Adams. Only dreams, of course.