Club: Sporting Kansas City
By Leo Linden
Though he hasn’t yet had a chance to fully blossom for the United States Men’s National Team, if Dom Dwyer continues to net appearances for the national side, he will begin to make Bruce Arena’s life very difficult. Still an outsider for the main squad, as can be seen by his inclusion in the Gold Cup team, Dwyer is essentially on trial for a spot in big upcoming qualifiers and more importantly, next year’s World Cup. He still has a lot of work to do in order to be in the squad that travels to Russia, but Dwyer’s stock is certainly rising.
Born in Cuckfield, England, Dwyer benefitted from some quality, European coaching at a young age which allowed him to develop at a high level. Dwyer was a member of Norwich City’s (and two other smaller English sides) academy for a total of eight years, but multiple breaks to his foot left the youngster in doubt as to whether or not football could be a full-time job.
After a couple of loans, one domestic to then-USL club Orlando City and another to Scottish Premiership side St. Mirren, Dwyer settled in for Sporting KC. And, ever since earning his spot in the starting lineup in 2013 (a season in which Sporting would go on to win the MLS Cup), he has been a stalwart with a knack for scoring goals. Though he only produced two during the 2013 MLS Cup-winning season, in the three seasons since, he has netted 22, 12, and 16 goals, twice finishing in the top five in the league in scoring.
At the same time, Dwyer was adapting to his new life in the United States and working on getting a green card and citizenship, the latter of which he finally obtained earlier this year. This season, Dwyer has started slowly, only scoring five times in his first 15 league appearances, but Arena has still rewarded the soon to be 27-year-old with his first minutes for the USMNT, and Dwyer has produced.
In his first-ever cap against Ghana in a Gold Cup tune-up, Dwyer scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win over the
And that point is key.
International football is often defined by low-scoring, gritty affairs, and grinding out results with scrappy goals is crucial. Dwyer’s work rate and poaching ability, which he has displayed in both tallies for the USMNT as well as his career with Kansas City, might not be the solution up top for Arena, but he could well turn into a great asset on the bench. Furthermore, the USMNT is often characterized by struggles in the final third of the pitch, and though fresh faces like Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood are turning that around, further help is always welcome and needed for the side currently ranked just 35th-best in the world by FIFA rankings. Bear in mind, in a country void of mega-stars in the men’s game (though Dwyer’s wife, USWNT forward Sydney Leroux, qualifies on the women’s side), spots on the field are always available to be won.
In truth, the goal of being on a World Cup squad, or even playing in some critical qualifiers, may never come to fruition for Dwyer. At the moment, it is hard to say he isn’t still on the outside looking in. With that in mind, though, Dwyer is starting to make a strong case for his inclusion in bigger events for the national side. If he can keep producing goals, or at least putting in good shifts, over the remainder of the Gold Cup, there is a decent chance that Arena will give the striker the opportunity to prove himself on a grander stage. And, at the moment, that would be a huge step forward for Dwyer.