Dom Dwyer is coming back to his (spiritual) home. Orlando City has acquired its former USL scorer from Sporting Kansas City — the team that originally loaned him to Orlando’s USL side in 2013 — in exchange for...well, a lot of money. Potentially an awful lot of money.
Orlando City sent Sporting $400,000 in General Allocation Money and $500,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, plus will send up to another $700,000 in future Allocation Money to SKC based on the Dwyer’s performance.
“Our group has worked hard to find potential additions to the club and we are thrilled to finalize this deal and add an important piece to the roster in Dom,” Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão said in a press release. “Dom is a fantastic player who recently gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of with the U.S. Men’s National Team and will keep doing so with the Club and at the MLS All-Star game next week.”
“Dom adds tremendous strength to our attack. He brings speed, energy and strong technical ability,” General Manager Niki Budalic added in the club release. “He has grown as a player over the years into one who is a threat whenever he’s on the field.”
Dwyer, 26, scored 19 league goals (with four of those in the championship match) and three in U.S. Open Cup play for Orlando City in 2013, helping the club win its second USL Pro title with an epic 7-4 victory in the championship game. The club essentially begged for Dom to be loaned down for the title game and his club-record, four-goal MVP performance against the Charlotte Eagles cemented Dwyer’s legend in the Lions’ history.
Dom’s first stint in Orlando in 2013 included a hat trick against Antigua Barracuda FC, a goal in a friendly against Brazilian Serie A side Fluminense, and a then-record for most goals in a USL season (15 – tied with Jose Angulo of Pittsburgh). He was part of a USL and MLS championship team in 2013, as he played in the MLS Cup final for Sporting Kansas City after scoring the winning goal in the semifinals to put his team in the final. He also scored in CONCACAF Champions League play in his dream 2013 season. He finished the season on the USL’s All-League first team and scored in about every competition in North America: MLS, USL, U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, USL playoffs, MLS playoffs, and a friendly.
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 has played 10,042 minutes with SKC from 2012-2017, firing 401 shots (161 on goal), committing 239 fouls, and picking up one red card and 27 cautions, with 108 offside calls.
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.
Dwyer recently earned his first call-up to the United States Men’s National Team, scoring in his first two appearances for his country, including a Gold Cup goal against Panama in the tournament opener. He was returned to Sporting Kansas City after the Gold Cup group stage and three caps for Bruce Arena’s squad.
Orlando City has been pursuing Dwyer essentially since making the jump to Major League Soccer. Former manager Adrian Heath was fined by the league for discussing Dwyer on his weekly call-in show in 2015. Heath said at the time that Dom wanted to come back to Orlando.
"If we ring Kansas City one more time, we're going to get reported to the league from (SKC head coach) Peter Vermes."
"There's no secret that Dom wants to be here. We've tried to get him here. We've done everything we can. Unfortunately we can't do it yet. I think this is his spiritual home. He wants to come back and we'd love to have him."
Despite the departure of nearly all the USL Lions over the last couple of seasons, Dom will see at least one familiar face in training when he joins Orlando City. Lions midfielder Servando Carrasco was his teammate in Kansas City in 2015.
What it Means for Orlando City
This is a player that made sense for Orlando to pursue and he 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.
He can play as a lone striker or up top with Cyle Larin or Carlos Rivas and can potentially be part of a three-man attack force in a 4-3-3 as well.
Don’t ever say we didn’t call it...
Welcome home, Dom!