It’s not Christmas, but it could be Christmas in July if Orlando City pulls off a rumored deal to acquire former USL Lions striker Dom Dwyer. Taylor Twellman dropped the rumor on Twitter this afternoon that the club is “aggressively” pursuing the Sporting Kansas City and budding USMNT star forward.
It’s important to note that trade discussions take place — and fall through — all the time, but this is a player that the club has pursued in the past and he fits one of the 2017 squad’s most glaring needs. So this is a player that makes sense for Orlando to pursue and it ticks all the boxes — already popular in the city due to his past play with the Lions in the USL, a popular rising star on the U.S. team, a goal scorer who can both finish and create his own chances, and a marketable star the team can recoup its investment from in the form of merchandise sales. It’s also noteworthy that he is married to striker Sydney Leroux, who could perhaps be persuaded to seek a move to the Orlando Pride.
As I said, literally every box is checked.
Dwyer, 26, is in the prime of his professional career. In 128 MLS games (111 starts), Dwyer has amassed 57 goals and nine assists, with a career-high (and club record) 22 goals in 2014. He is the first player in Sporting KC history to record 12 or more goals in three straight seasons.
He played collegiate soccer just down I-4 at the University of South Florida for one year, where he was a 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, NSCAA All-American Second Team selection, and the Big East Offensive Player of the Year. He led USF with 16 goals and two assists in 21 games, helping the team reach the quarterfinals of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
He built his legacy in Orlando by scoring 22 goals in all competitions (15 league, four playoff, and three U.S. Open Cup) back in 2013 with the USL Lions while on loan from SKC. Four of his goals came in a 7-4 victory in the USL championship, as Orlando hoisted their second league title trophy.
What it Would Mean for Orlando City
Dwyer’s arrival would be huge for the Lions. Depending on what the club has to give up to get his rights, he could easily fit into the current squad atop the 4-4-2 alongside Cyle Larin, whose current salary doesn’t make him cost prohibitive to keep for the time being. Remember, the club still has options on Larin’s original deal. Dwyer isn’t afraid to get deep into the middle of the penalty area — something that Carlos Rivas doesn’t always like to do. Having Dwyer would allow Jason Kreis the flexibility to have Rivas come off the bench as a super sub, where his speed can be most effectively used. Rivas could also play an attacking midfield role.
Since Dwyer is in the final year of his current contract, the Lions would have to have some assurance that he wouldn’t go elsewhere at the end of the season. This means the club would likely come to an agreement on an extension/new deal before finalizing a trade with Sporting Kansas City. It would give the club flexibility to move Larin when his deal expires, or when a European club offers a sizeable amount for his services — whichever comes first.
As mentioned above, Dwyer’s acquisition would sell jerseys and tickets, and potentially allow the Pride to swing a deal for striker Sydney Leroux – who isn’t a current need on the squad but additional attacking talent is never something a team can have enough of.
Why it Might not Happen
There are many moving parts to any deal but this one feels especially tricky. Orlando City would need to come to an agreement to keep Dwyer beyond his current salary. This isn’t a rental. General Manager Niki Budalic said the club was pursuing opportunities to help the club both now and in the future. So, some future assurance would be needed to spend the sizeable amount of assets that SKC would require to make the deal.
That brings me to the next point: Orlando City would have to satisfy Sporting Kansas City with sufficient value in order to acquire Dwyer’s services. Dom isn’t going to come cheap. You saw what Kevin Molino brought to Orlando. Dwyer is a more established and more prolific player, although SKC may not have as much leverage with his deal running out soon. I would say a comparable deal to the Molino trade is reasonable, but SKC may also be eyeing a player in return. Orlando City has assets that can be moved. There is depth at defensive midfield and there are young center backs who SKC may covet. Could you part with a Tommy Redding or a Cristian Higuita? Probably, and maybe even both, and that, plus a bundle of allocation money, might be what it takes to get Dom to Orlando.
So, to summarize, for this to happen:
- Orlando City has to offer up an enticing enough package to Sporting KC.
- The Lions must be able to outbid any other team that also is interested in Dwyer.
- Orlando City has to come to an agreement with Dwyer to keep him beyond the season.
- The league has to approve the deal.
This is a deal that makes sense for both sides if SKC isn’t willing to give Dwyer a big raise or if the club is eyeing another expensive move. It’s certainly a deal that makes sense for Orlando City, barring too high an asking price. It may or may not happen, but it’s a realistic rumor that has some legs.