Orlando City spent most of the summer on a disappointing downward spiral. From May on, the Lions could not find the form that won them six of their first seven matches. The third straight summer slump was marred with points dropped in crunch time, leads given away too easily, and a side starved for goals. Carlos Rivas wasn’t cutting it as a starting striker and a midfield of Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, and Antonio Nocerino just wasn’t providing anything for Cyle Larin to latch onto.
With Orlando’s playoff hopes hanging by a thread, General Manager Niki Budalic and the City front office decided to go all in.
The first step was procuring a striker that could potentially pair with Larin and provide another lethal threat up front. With Orlando City swinging for the fences, it went after one of the most successful strikers in MLS over the past few years who also happened to be a familiar face. There were the usual rumors on social media, but it was a simple tweet from Taylor Twellman that made most City fans believe that a dream might actually come true.
Could a return to his “spiritual home” actually be in the cards for Dwyer? Fans had been calling for his return ever since his breakout season in 2013 when he guided the USL Orlando City side to a championship.
Just two days later, the Lions made it a reality. In a record-setting deal that could see up to $1.6 million in allocation money sent Sporting Kansas City’s way, Orlando City got its man. Naturally, the fan base exploded with excitement. Hundreds of fans made their way to Orlando International Airport to welcome Dom back home:
But Orlando City wasn’t done yet. There was still a gaping hole in the midfield and the Lions needed someone to get the ball to the feet of their star striker tandem. Almost as soon as the fanfare from Dom’s arrival died down, there was a rumor that a South American midfielder with plenty of international experience was on his way to the City Beautiful. Buzz spread like wildfire again with plenty of speculation until Orlando City announced the signing of Designated Player Yoshimar Yotun a few hours later.
His announcement did not come with all of the pomp and circumstance that Dwyer’s did as he was unveiled in the stadium already decked out in purple with a scarf over his head. He did come with a killer nickname, though.
Sources indicate Orlando City is set to sign Peruvian national team midfielder Yoshi Yotún. The new Beckerman for Jason Kreis. pic.twitter.com/Qe8IQZInoI— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) August 4, 2017
And so, in the span of 10 days, Orlando City signed two cornerstones. Both hit the ground running and elevated an inconsistent Lions offense to the next level. Yoshi finished the season with one goal and four assists and Dom marked his return home with four goals and four assists of his own. And who could forget Dom’s first goal in Orlando City Stadium?
While it wasn’t enough to propel Orlando City above the red line, the signings provided solid pieces to build around in 2018. With Cyle Larin’s potential exit looming, having Dwyer in the fold means there’s no drop-off at striker and Yoshi will maintain his job as the offensive spark from central midfield.
Bringing in two of City’s best players in just a few days makes City’s summer splash an easy selection for our best moments countdown.
Come back through New Year's Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2017.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2017
10. Orlando City trounces New England Revolution, 6-1.
9. Orlando Pride clobbers Sky Blue FC, 5-0.
8. OCB’s impressive 12-game unbeaten streak through the summer of 2017.
7. Orlando City adds Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter to the defense.
6. Veteran USWNT defender Ali Krieger joins the Orlando Pride’s starting XI.
5. Orlando Pride sign Brazilian superstar Marta prior to the 2017 NWSL season.
4. Orlando City Stadium hosts the USMNT for an important World Cup qualifier.