L.A. BLUES: Dike to debut in Dayton
Dike, a fast, physical forward on loan from the Portland Timbers, joined Blues preparations Tuesday and figures to feature USL Pro games Friday against the Dayton Dutch Lions and Saturday against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“From watching his highlights, I expect something a little different [from Dike],” Blues head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles. “Watching his early days, before the Achilles injury, he was more power than finesse. Watching [now], to be honest, he's got nice feet. He's a good all-around player. Now that we're back into a possession style and have tweaked the formation, he's fitting right in.
“He gives us the strength to get through somebody if we need to get through somebody. He's very versatile. The team has responded well to having him here. He seems to be happy as well. ... An addition like that is never going to hurt you.”
Dike, 25, played 11 games in his first Major League Soccer season last year after missing the first 5½ months because of a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in Portland's preseason opener in early February. He had not played in a first-team match this year before the loan deal was completed. He's scheduled to spend the entire USL Pro season with the Blues -- the playoffs begin in late August -- but the Timbers may recall him if they choose to.
Dike's arrival, and former Chivas USA forward Maykel Galindo's impending debut, prompted Naimo to switch the Blues (1-2-1) from a 4-1-4-1 alignment to a 4-4-2 that will emphasize the forwards. Galindo remains sidelined with a sprained ankle -- his target date is the May 22 U.S. Open Cup second-round game against the Fullerton Rangers or Ventura County Fusion -- but Matt Fondy and Cheun-Yong Park have impressed in stints up top, providing decent depth to the attack.
Dayton (0-2-2) is the USL after winning just twice in 24 league games last year. Pittsburgh (2-4-0) won its opener at Antigua and beat Dayton at home three weeks ago but has lose successive one-goal games at Charleston, Wilmington and Orlando City.
WORTH NOTING: Naimo will return following Saturday's game to coach the Pali Blues' women's team, one of three USL-affiliated teams in the club, in its W-League opener against the L.A. Strikers at Occidental College. ... Blues winger George Davis IV led Dayton with seven goals last year. The Dutch Lions were 0-1-2 against the Blues in 2011. ... Pittsburgh features former Real Salt Lake forward Tino Nuñez (Long Beach/Millikan HS and Compton College/UC Santa Barbara). Fondy had two goals for the Riverhounds last season. The Blues won the only 2011 meeting, 3-0, in Pittsburgh.