Daryl Dike ready to ride West Brom form into latest USMNT opportunity
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Daryl Dike ready to ride West Brom form into latest USMNT opportunity

It’s been over one year since Daryl Dike last appeared for the U.S. men’s national team, but after overcoming a lengthy spell on the sidelines at English club West Bromwich Albion, Dike is ready to make the most of his latest opportunity after finding his groove at club level.

Dike comes into the March USMNT window riding strong form in Carlos Corberan’s squad this English football League Championship campaign. The 22-year-old leads the Baggies with seven goals this season, with six of those coming in his 14 appearances this calendar year.

After missing out on the USMNT’s involvement at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as the opening matches of the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League, Dike is focused on making up for lost time against Grenada and El Salvador.

“I’m not going to take it for granted,” Dike said about his first USMNT call up since the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. “You always want to be the striker, you always want to come in and play whenever you have the chance. You always want to be part of the squad, help the guys and be a part of every camp. For me throughout that time [being injured] it was fuel to get to where I am today. It’s another opportunity for me to show what I can do.

“I think I have changed a lot because I had a lot of adversity at the beginning part of my career,” Dike added. “I think things were going smoothly but you’re always going to have a little blip and for me it was about finding myself off the pitch. I like to do what will relax me and what will make me happy and throughout the past two years I have started to grow at that which I think will help on the field as well.”

Dike made the move to West Brom from Orlando City in January 2022, but was reduced to only two appearances due to a long-term hamstring injury. Steve Bruce’s firing in October led to Corberan’s appointment last fall, a move which has helped Dike get back on track and West Brom remain well in the race to earn a promotion playoff spot.

Corberan has led the Baggies to 14 victories in his 24 matches in charge this season, while also relying on Dike to lead the line on a regular basis. Dike has rewarded his manager by scoring four goals in his last five appearances for West Brom, an impressive run of form that contributed to his March call-up.

“Carlos has been great, you can see everything throughout the squad and how people are playing individually,” Dike said. “I think he’s someone who has helped me tactically and becoming a more complete player. Looking at me I think everyone sees the physical side, but I think he is someone who has gotten me to work more on the tactical side and the technical side of the game.

“He keeps pushing me every game and I think as a young player it’s important to have someone like that in my career,” Dike added.

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

March’s two-match window will also provide Dike with the chance to return to Orlando, the city that kickstarted his professional career. Dike was the No. 5 overall selection by the Lions in the 2020 MLS Draft, before proceeding to tally 19 goals in 41 MLS appearances.

Dike is not only glad to be back with the USMNT for the first time in 19 months, but also to return to Exploria Stadium and represent his country in front of his former supporters.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Dike said. “I haven’t been to Exploria since I left to go overseas but I know it’s a great place. I love the stadium, I love the fans and city, so being able to come back and play in front of everyone is something that’s so important to me. I’m super excited to be back in front of everyone.”

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