September 3rd, 2012 by Kelly McLain
The Timbers players did their normal post-match walk around the field to thank the fans following Friday’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids, finishing with the traditional log ceremony in front of the Timbers Army. A roar rose up from the crowd in unison with two log slices, one for goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts recording a shutout, the other for Bright Dike and his 45th minute goal. But it wasn’t Dike standing next to Ricketts, it was Kosuke Kimura, who had just played against his former team for the first time.
Dike was a little busy. After all, when you’ve just scored the only goal in a nationally televised match, the big-time TV broadcasters are going to want to talk you.
The forward, who endeared himself to Portland fans when he arrived for the club’s final lower-division season in 2010, is known for his thunderous (and often times inaccurate) shots and bull-in-a-china-shop style of play.
At least that’s what he was known for a few of months ago.
Dike recently returned from a two-month loan to USL PRO side L.A. Blues. While there, he recorded six goals and two assists in 10 games. After recovering from a torn Achilles tendon which sidelined him for most of the 2011 campaign, and never quite featuring in John Spencer’s lineups, Dike got some much-needed playing time in L.A., as well as a bit of composure and confidence.
Dike has started the last three matches in place of this past off-season’s high profile Designated Player signee Kris Boyd. Dike scored twice in those three games, and he contributed in the buildup of another goal. Friday night’s game-winning goal was Dike’s first MLS goal in front of the Rose City faithful, and the requisite log-lifting ceremony felt like a moment that was long overdue.
But TV and advertising dollars rule the roost in modern day sports, so like a good soldier, Dike took his turn in front of the bright lights and cameras while a teammate took his place and raised his log.
I barely noticed the standard ceremony cheer coming from the North End, but I did notice something out of the ordinary a few minutes later. While I briskly walked along the JELD-WEN Field press box catwalks, rushing down to the post-match press conference, I heard a second roar from the remaining crowd. A roar where none should have been. Having just passed my last chance to peer onto the field, I stopped and took a few steps back just in time to see Dike holding his log slice in front of the Army and then disappearing into the locker room tunnel.
“Beto [Angulo], our manager, just grabbed me and said, ‘Come here,’” recalled Dike after the game. “So did Merritt [Paulson], he was like, ‘Come take this log and raise it up. We missed you out there.’”
It wasn’t exactly a curtain call, but forward Bright Dike finally got his log slice ceremony, and a private one at that. Well, “private” in that it was just Dike—and a thousand of his favorite supporters.