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Breaking Down a Potential Trade of Dom Dwyer for Darwin Quintero

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Let’s discuss rumors because why not?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Minnesota United FC Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

With rumors swirling of Minnesota United’s interest in Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer, as well as the claim of Darwin Quintero that the Loons have not picked up his option for 2020 (although that has apparently been refuted by the club), many believe a deal might be imminent that would send Dwyer to Minnesota and Quintero to Orlando. Right now it’s all nothing but speculation and rumor. But it’s the off-season, so...let’s talk about it! Is this a deal that would make sense for the Lions?

Both players have shown they can score double digit goals in Major League Soccer and both have worn the Designated Player tag the last couple of seasons.

Quintero completed his second season with Minnesota but seemed to fall out of favor in the latter stages of the year. He played in more games this season (30 in 2019, 27 in 2018) but started one fewer match (26 this year compared to 27 last season), and played 188 fewer minutes (2,208 as opposed to 2,396), which is just a little more than the equivalent of two fewer matches. He scored 10 goals in 2019 after netting 11 a year ago. His shots were close to identical as well, as he fired 81 shot attempts in his second MLS season after trying 78 last season. But he got more on target last year (32) than in 2019 (27). His goal, time played, and shots data is close to identical over the course of his two seasons in Minnesota.

However, the big change for Quintero came in distribution. Quintero assisted on 15 goals in 2018 for an offense that scored 49 times in total. But this season he registered only five assists for an offense that scored 52 goals. A drop-off of double digit assists in the era of the hockey assist is curious.

Meanwhile, Dwyer had his worst goal-scoring season since 2013, when he netted two goals in 16 appearances with Sporting Kansas City. He finished the season with seven goals and four assists in 27 appearances, which seems a huge drop-off after finding the net 13 times in 26 games a year ago. And it is a big drop, but when you consider that he started 16 times compared to 25 last season, and played 630 fewer minutes, a big chunk of that production drop can be explained.

What can’t be explained is the higher-than-expected rate of missed sitters Dwyer had in 2019. Whether it was a lack of confidence due to coming off the bench more, trying to do too much to show he should be a regular starter, off-field distractions — don’t condemn me for this, but I spent eight months during my wife’s last pregnancy as a nervous wreck and it absolutely messed with my concentration and everyday life — or something else, Dwyer wasn’t his normal, reliable self. While he’s always been streaky and he’s always missed some sitters, you could typically also count on him to stick somewhere between a dozen and 16 balls into the back of the net over the course of a season.

On the other hand, despite a drop in minutes, Dwyer provided four assists in 2019 — the second most of his career. He had five assists in 2017, with one before his arrival in Orlando and four more after being paired up top with Cyle Larin. The Larin-Dwyer pair we wanted to see never materialized in 2018 because of how the Canadian engineered his exit from the club (and the club has its share of blame for that happening as well, but I digress).

So, when you look at the last two seasons the math gives you these sums:

  • Quintero: 57 games played, 53 starts, 4,604 minutes, 21 goals, 20 assists, 159 shots, 59 shots on goal, 52 fouls committed, 23 offside calls, and eight yellow cards.
  • Dwyer: 53 games played, 41 starts, 3,858 minutes, 20 goals, four assists, 144 shots, 62 shots on goal, 80 fouls committed, 56 offside calls, 16 yellow cards and one red card.

What we can take from those numbers is that Quintero is a much better setup man. The two have scored about the same number of goals, with Quintero needing more minutes and shots to get there. Dwyer is more likely to be called for offside, commit a foul, or go in the book.

Why Orlando City Should Consider the Deal

The biggest pro for both is a fresh start for the players. If each guy gets a second wind from the deal, it’ll be good for Dwyer and Quintero. Orlando fans will enjoy Quintero’s more consistent play and the added dimension he brings in setting up others. A fresh face is usually a popular one unless the new guy struggles, so any residual anger some fans feel for Dwyer after his 2019 scoring slump would turn into a more positive vibe — at least in the short term.

Being a Colombian, Quintero might have a better understanding of how some of his teammates (Sebas Mendez, for example) want to play and his style might better suit working with Nani. He’d be better at providing for guys like Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller, Benji Michel, and Santiago Patino.

Why Orlando City Shouldn’t Consider the Deal

If this is a straight-up, one-for-one trade, it might not be in the best interest of OCSC. For starters, Quintero will turn 33 during the 2020 season. Dom will turn 30 in late July. While Dwyer has shown that he can be susceptible to injuries, there’s not a huge gap in games played between the two, so I wouldn’t even make that a consideration. Some fans want a bigger striker because Dwyer is often dwarfed by the opposing team’s center backs. Quintero is listed as being four inches shorter than Dwyer.

Quintero made $1.75 million in guaranteed salary this past season. Dwyer made $1.5 million. Orlando would be giving up a quarter million dollars more in salary (although nothing extra against the cap if swapping one DP for another) by trading forwards with Minnesota. At least there would be no need for an international slot, as Quintero has received his green card. If the plan is to buy down Dwyer/Quintero with allocation money, you’re probably better off with the less expensive guy.

Dwyer showed signs of finally busting his slump late in the season, scoring two goals and adding an assist in his final three matches of 2019. He fired 11 shots with seven on target in those three games. Quintero, on the other hand, scored only two goals in his last eight appearances and they both came in the same game.

If Dwyer returns to his usual numbers — perhaps not DP numbers in today’s MLS but pretty strong — and Quintero continues to slide, there would be a lot of upset folks in the stands of Exploria Stadium after such a trade.

Mitigating Circumstances that Could Make the Deal Better/Worse

Any deal between the two teams could change drastically depending on whether any other assets are involved. That could be in the form of players, draft picks, allocation money, an international slot, allocation ranking, etc. A straight-up trade would seem fairly even financially and we’ve already seen that it wouldn’t necessarily be lopsided on the production side. But whoever gets the other team to throw in additional assets could come out on the right end of such a trade.


Ultimately, if a deal is struck, Quintero might be a good addition to Orlando and he might even provide more offense than Dwyer. However, if the Lions are going to get older and shorter up front, this can’t be the final move the club should make up top this off-season. Just as Dwyer may more of a prototypical MLS 2.0 striker than an MLS 3.0 striker, Quintero also may not be the answer. If the club is going to find its own Carlos Vela/Zlatan Ibrahimovic/Josef Martinez type, neither guy is one of those. However, Quintero would seem a better fit in a three-man front opposite Nani with one of those Vela/Zlatan/Martinez types in the middle.

Whether the next coach is Oscar Pareja or someone else, they might have their own opinion on whether or not they’d rather work with Dwyer or Quintero. That’s something else to keep in mind if nothing happens in this two-day trade window. This could always happen later after the new coach is in place and has had time to review his squad.

Right now, we haven’t heard of anything being imminent, but things can move suddenly and quickly when the trade window is open. We’ll see what happens if this kind of deal comes to pass. For now, I just thought it would be fun to look at the numbers to see what it might look like if a deal gets done.