Dom Dwyer is “home.”
The 26-year-old English-born striker arrived in Orlando on Tuesday night to a sea of supporters at Orlando International Airport, officially kicking off his second stint with Orlando City.
The initial news was surprising and the final deal was stunning, as the Lions agreed to send Sporting Kansas City a record amount of allocation money ($400,000 in General, $500,000 in Targeted, and another $700,000 to be determined later) in exchange for the league’s second highest goal scorer over the last four seasons.
Dwyer returns to Orlando, where he ruled the land with 15 goals in 13 games — a record-setting total that season — during a loan stint and a four-goal performance in the 2013 USL championship against the Charlotte Eagles to help deliver the Lions their second league title.
For Sporting, the timing seemed a little — okay, maybe a lot — odd considering the club is currently sitting in second place in the Western Conference and is still one of four teams alive in the U.S. Open Cup. So, why sell one of your best players and top striker? Simple: Orlando City made a deal they couldn’t refuse.
And it was a win-win for all sides involved.
The writing on the wall started to appear when a report on Goal.com surfaced earlier this month that Dwyer rejected a new contract from Sporting worth roughly $1.25 million per year. And that was before Dwyer made his debut for the U.S. Men’s National Team and was named to the initial Gold Cup roster. Talks were only bound to get more expensive for KC.
That’s where Orlando — and other clubs — began to step in, inquiring about Dwyer’s availability, and Orlando would eventually pull out in front of the pack with the large sum of allocation money the club had been sitting on from Kevin Molino’s trade to Minnesota during the preseason.
Orlando needed help on offense, and Dwyer brings it. The Lions are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league this season; Cyle Larin has only scored two goals since April 23, Kaká hasn’t scored since May 13, and Carlos Rivas only has four goals in nearly 1,500 minutes this year. While Dwyer does, on paper, solve a large problem, the Lions still need help in the midfield, which could come in the form of Kaká becoming a productive player again — he has, at least in my opinion, looked much better in each of the last two games.
Unlike Larin, Dwyer does the dirty work, and he thrives in that role. He can open up more space for Larin, and he can make stealthy runs to the ball. On paper, his partnership up top with Larin could be a dangerous one, if only for a few more months.
Which brings me to my next point: Orlando no longer needs to worry about what it’s going to do after the inevitable sale of Larin goes down. If anything, it might expedite the process. The Lions now have the cover to do so, and the allocation money they’d bring in from the sale — $650,000 as Paul Tenorio noted in his great piece about the complicated workings of MLS allocation — would help recoup some of the $1.6 million they’re handing over in the Dwyer deal.
Risky or not, at the end of the day this was a deal Orlando City was right to make.