Charlie Naimo's Los Angeles Blues were aiming to build on the breakthrough weekend against the Wilmington Hammerheads with a couple of key contests against the Dayton Dutch Lions and Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
But in order to do this, they needed some firepower, and they got it by signing Portland Timbers star Bright Dike on loan.
“Portland contacted us and asked whether we’d be interested if the opportunity came up,” Naimo told LABluesProSoccer.com's Gunnar Berndt. “It was a no-brainer for us and we feel very fortunate to be adding a classy player like Bright to our roster and hopefully have him here for a while to come.”
As a member of the Timbers in the USSF D2 Pro League, Dike scored 10 goals in 23 appearances and was one of four holdovers that made it to the current MLS team roster.
“The Timbers coaches told me I needed to get more minutes at a high level and that there were a few possible destinations,” Dike told Berndt. “From what they said, it seemed like the Blues were the best fit, with coaches who can really help my game and who are determined to get the most out of every player.
"After one day of training, that’s exactly the impression I have. They know what they want to see on the field and what they expect out of us.”
The hope for the Blues was that they would get at least one win from their road trip. They didn't figure that they would get two.
“We probably need to be a little bit better with our possession than we were against Wilmington,” Naimo remarked last week. “While it was good that we generated some goals, the games were much more wide open than I’d like them to be. That said, we’re introducing a different system this week that might be better suited against certain opponents."
The system worked.
On Friday, the Blues shut out Dayton in Bellbrook, Ohio, 1-0, thanks to Allan Russell, whose missed penalty kick in the 66th minute was countered by a wonder strike in the 73rd minute. Furthermore, the Blues played total defense and frustrated the Dutch Lions from start to finish.
That set things up for an even better performance against the Riverhounds on Saturday. Ricky Waddell opened the scoring in the 46th minute, and both Dike and Matt Fondy traded goals and assists in the 52nd and 69th minutes to cap off a 3-0 victory for Los Angeles over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Chartiers Vallery High School in Bridgeville, Pa.
The Blues have the week off but will return to action on Thursday, May 24 to take on their toughest assignment since Rochester: the Lions of Orlando City.
Kickoff at the Florida Citrus Bowl is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET.