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Orlando City’s Struggles Without Dom Dwyer Continue

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Dom Dwyer is a gifted scorer but the Lions must find a solution for when he is not in the lineup.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City’s 2-1 loss to Toronto FC, which was without two of its better players in Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, showed once again why Dom Dwyer is such an important part to what Orlando City does. Orlando City has obviously struggled without Dwyer in the lineup and anyone can see the difference in the team statistics with and without the striker.

Dwyer Is The Reason Orlando City Scores

Orlando City has been without Dwyer for four of its 11 matches this season. In those four matches, Orlando City is 0-3-1, scored just three total goals, and was outscored 7-3. That means Orlando doesn’t even average a goal (0.75) while Dwyer is on the bench, which is a major problem with the injury issues he’s had this season. In the seven games that Dwyer has been in the lineup, Orlando City has scored 18 goals, averaging 2.5 per game. That’s a 1.75 goal difference with and without one player in the lineup. The right player can change a game and Dwyer does that, but he also seems to hurt Orlando City when he isn’t playing. That is a major problem that Jason Kreis needs to address ahead of a tough stretch of games.

Dwyer and His Presence

Dwyer’s presence in the lineup, with six goals in those seven games, opens up other players on the pitch. Without him, players like Justin Meram and Chris Mueller struggle to even create attacking chances. It was evident against Toronto FC, as Meram, Mueller and Stéfano Pinho combined for only five of the club’s 10 shots, while only two of those shots were on target from the trio. Even in the 2-1 loss to Atlanta United with Dwyer in the lineup, Dwyer and Meram alone combined for six of the 11 shots Orlando City took, with three of them on target and one leading to Meram’s first goal. Those two games, even though they were both losses, pinpoint Dwyer’s presence opening up other players, something that drove the Lions to the six-game winning streak the club had going.

Dwyer Dominates When He Is On The Pitch

Dwyer is a dominant player when he is on the pitch, both with his goal scoring and his hold-up play. He also changes games because teams focus on him so much that they forget about other players. In his seven games, Dwyer has 22 shots, second on the team behind Meram, who has 31 in four more appearances. Dwyer does have the most shots on target for Orlando City, with 12, meaning he consistently puts shots on goal and makes opposing goalkeepers work. He also forces himself into good positions for taking shots, as 14 of his 22 shots were taken within the penalty area. When Dwyer gets position, he causes numerous issues for defenses, but when he isn’t on the field, defenses seem to have nothing to worry about.

No One Is Ready to Replace Dwyer

It doesn’t seem anyone else can handle the workload up top that Dwyer puts in, game in and game out. Meram, who has a history of playing forward, struggled early in the season when playing the striker position. Mueller is a solid player, but is still a rookie who needs time to develop and help from veteran players to set himself up in solid situations. Pinho has been spotty at the striker spot, getting bullied by opposing defenses. Dwyer is a special player, but I think it would be smart of Kreis to consider a two-striker formation, such as a 4-4-2, to take the load off of his strikers and wingers so that they can help each other when Dwyer is out.

Dwyer is having an MLS All-Star type season once again, but Orlando City has to figure out how to play when he isn’t able to take the field. It is understandable why the club struggles without him, but if Orlando City can find a way to get points from matches he does not play in, the Lions could keep themselves in contention. Kreis has lots to figure out if Dwyer is out of the lineup for an extensive amount of time, so we will see how Orlando City copes without its star moving forward.