Orlando City SC Head Coach Oscar Pareja and rookie forward Daryl Dike have been named finalists for Major League Soccer’s end of year awards, it was announced today. Pareja was named one of three finalists for Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year, while Dike is a finalist for the AT&T MLS Young Player of the Year award.
Pareja, who is in his first season at the helm, has led the Club to its first-ever postseason appearance, with the Lions set to face NYCFC on Nov. 21 at Exploria Stadium. The Colombian manager, who was previously named MLS Coach of the Year in 2016, has unveiled an Orlando City squad that jumped from No. 11 to No. 4 in the Eastern Conference in just a single season.
Under Pareja’s guidance, Orlando has averaged 1.78 points per game, which over a full 34-game season, would see the Lions on track to hit 61 points this year. This season has also seen the Lions’ offense hit a new stride, with an average of 1.74 goals per game - another Club single-season record. Perhaps the biggest improvement for the team has come on the opposite side of the field, with the 2020 squad allowing just 1.09 goals per game, a number that shatters the Club’s previous record of 1.53 goals allowed per match.
At the conclusion of the 2020 regular season, Pareja currently sits eighth all-time in MLS coaching wins with 114 career victories.
Dike, who was selected fifth overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, contributed to 12 total goals in his rookie season. His eight goals sit at second most on the team, while his four assists were the fourth most of any Lion in 2020. The Edmond, Oklahoma native was voted MLS Player of the Month in August after netting three goals and providing two helpers over a three-match span.
In his first year as a Lion, Dike has scored the most goals by a City rookie since Cyle Larin’s Rookie of the Year season in 2015. The 20-year-old forward also finished out the 2020 regular season with four goals in four-consecutive matches to help City clinch its first home playoff match in Club history.
For the AT&T MLS Young Player of the Year award, “young player” is defined as a player age 22 or under (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998).
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