In 2013, Sporting Kansas City sent striker Dom Dwyer on loan to its USL Pro affiliate, Orlando City. Dwyer went on to score 15 goals in 13 league games, three goals in three U.S. Open Cup appearances, and helped orchestrate a return for the 2013 USL Pro Championship Game in which he scored four more goals. During the 2017 season, one of the club’s most popular all-time players returned “home,” as he called it, stating that he should’ve had mixed feelings but was delighted by the trade.
With Cyle Larin on the decline in 2017 and forcing his way out of the club the following off-season, Lions fans were thrilled to see a true striker take his place and they were not disappointed. Dwyer scored four goals in his 12 appearances in 2017 and continued to produce in 2018, leading the team with 13 goals.
Let’s take a closer look at Dom Dwyer’s first full season in Orlando.
Dwyer took part in 26 games in 2018, starting 25, and playing 2,244 minutes. He scored 13 goals in 2018, more than a quarter of the team’s 43 goals and more than double the next-highest scorer. Almost half of his 78 shots were on target, with 36 on goal. When it comes to timing his runs, Dwyer was caught offside 41 times.
Anyone who has seen Dwyer play knows about his tenacity and fearlessness about challenging players, so it’s no surprise that he committed 43 fouls in 2018, receiving nine yellow cards. Spending most of the season alone up top, Dwyer was often the target of passes rather than the passer, which is why he didn’t record any assists this year — a year after he set a career high of five, which included four in just 12 appearances after the move to Orlando. In total, he completed 67.1 percent of his passes.
As you’d expect from a striker, his defensive numbers were low, as he averaged 0.3 tackles, 0.1 interceptions, 0.3 clearances, and 0.1 blocks per game.
Dwyer’s lone appearance in the U.S. Open Cup came on July 18 as the Lions took on the Philadelphia Union. Playing all 90 minutes, Dwyer didn’t record any shots in the 1-0 quarterfinal loss, but was offside once and committed a pair of fouls.
Due to an injury suffered during preseason, Dwyer was sidelined for the first three games of the season. When he came back, he gave the performance Orlando City fans were hoping for — his best of the season. The star striker scored a brace against the New York Red Bulls, lifting the Lions to their first win of the season, a 4-3 victory over one of the best teams in the league.
The game was back-and-forth all day, with each Red Bulls goal being answered by the Lions. After Florian Valot gave the visitors a 1-0 lead just seven minutes in, Will Johnson responded in the 15th minute with his own. In the 24th minute, Derrick Etienne retook the lead for the Red Bulls, and that’s when Dwyer got into the action.
In the 26th minute, the Lions won a corner which was taken by Yoshi Yotún. The ball went toward the near post. With his arm stretched out to shield off Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, Dwyer beat him to the ball and headed it in to equalize. Robles was incensed as he shouted at the referee, Jair Marrufo, to call a foul, but the goal stood.
Dwyer struck again in the 48th minute, but this one was much less controversial. Making a diagonal run from the center of the field, Mohamed El-Munir threw the ball in where Dwyer could run onto it. With the defense unaware of his run, Dwyer turned on the ball and put his first touch past Robles, giving the Lions a 3-2 lead.
Dwyer only had three shots on that day, all three were on goal and two resulted in goals. The pair of goals were typical of Dwyer. The first was due to his tenaciousness, lacking any care of his well-being, so long as the ball ended up in the back of the net. The second was an aggressive run, another Dwyer trademark, which allowed him to get in behind the defense.
2018 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Dwyer an overall grade of 7 for the 2018 MLS season. He was the lone productive striker for the team and had a decent strike rate, scoring in nearly half of his appearances. Given the lack of production by Stéfano Pinho, it’s difficult to see where the goals would’ve come from this year if not for Dwyer.
Dom Dwyer is currently on a three-year contract with Orlando City. He has stated on numerous occasions that he’s in the city he wants to live in and playing for the club he desires. Given that his wife Sydney Leroux is now with the Orlando Pride, it’s hard to believe there is a player happier to be in Orlando. From the club’s perspective, Dwyer has produced every year he’s worn purple and continues to do so. Like with Yotún, the season could’ve been much worse had they not been involved and the 2019 team will likely be built around these two players.
Previous Orlando City Season in Review Posts (Date Posted)
- Cam Lindley (10/31)
- Tony Rocha (11/1)
- Cristian Higuita (11/2)
- Joe Bendik (11/3)
- Jose Villareal (11/3)
- Dillon Powers (11/4)
- Chris Mueller (11/5)
- Mohamed El-Munir (11/6)
- PC (11/6)
- Jonathan Spector (11/7)
- Will Johnson (11/8)
- Chris Schuler (11/9)
- Earl Edwards, Jr. (11/9)
- Josué Colmán (11/10)
- Donny Toia (11/10)
- Lamine Sané (11/11)
- Stéfano Pinho (11/12)
- Oriol Rosell (11/13)
- Amro Tarek (11/14)
- Adam Grinwis (11/15)
- Sacha Kljestan (11/16)
- RJ Allen (11/17)
- Scott Sutter (11/19)
- Carlos Ascues (11/20)
- Shane O’Neill (11/21)
- Richie Laryea (11/22)
- Yoshimar Yotún (11/23)
- Pierre Da Silva (11/23)
This concludes our 2018 Orlando City Season in Review player ratings. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them and we look forward to bringing you more analysis of the season that was, as well as coverage of the 2019 season to come.