Orlando City reported to training camp earlier this week, and the start of the weekend brings us one week closer to the start of the MLS regular season. As the first team roster continues to take shape, some gaps still exist where the Lions may look to strengthen their depth and add veteran presence ahead of the 2023 season.
After an off-season of departures, Orlando City heads into the year with a known commodity as its No. 9 in Austrian striker Ercan Kara. The Designated Player is entering his second season with the club after signing a three-year contract on Jan. 27 of last year. Kara was responsible for 11 goals and three assists during the regular season in his first year with the club. However, there are question marks behind him on the depth chart at striker.
Gone are Alexandre Pato, Tesho Akindele, and Benji Michel. OCSC is currently limited to 2022 MLS draft pick Jack Lynn and 2023 MLS draft picks Duncan McGuire and Shak Mohammed. None of the three are known commodities, nor even guaranteed to see the pitch with the first team. For a squad that struggled to score at times in 2022, it would seem to be malpractice to start the 2023 season without looking to add at least one veteran striker to assist the Lions.
A name many Orlando City fans are still familiar with is former Lion Dom Dwyer. Orlando City’s USL hero came back to the City Beautiful in 2017 and was with the squad until the end of the 2020 season. Since that time, Orlando City fans have seen Dwyer play for Toronto FC and rival Atlanta United. Recently, Atlanta United waived Dwyer, who played in 22 matches during the 2022 season, logging five starts. Dwyer scored four times on 21 shots across 605 minutes played. He should have logged five goals, if not for a Herculean save by Orlando City keeper Pedro Gallase which earned MLS Save of the Year recognition.
Historically speaking, Dwyer is a player who has polarized Orlando City fans and developed a reputation for being a locker-room distraction. However, 2022 showed that Dwyer could accept a backup role and still find ways to contribute. Additionally, Dwyer commanded a base salary of $84,000 from Atlanta during the 2022 season, which is $31,000 less than what Orlando City paid in base salary for the services of Benji Michel during the same period. Orlando City is not looking for a striker to come in and take the reins from Kara, nor should it be. What is needed is a veteran presence who understands their role and the MLS environment. If Orlando City could procure Dwyer’s services with an affordable contract, it could position itself to check off a handful of needs with one signing.
What do you think, Mane Landers? If the price was right. would you welcome Dwyer back to the City Beautiful in a reserve role, and does this move make sense for a squad looking to add veteran talent before the start of the season? Let us know in the comments below.