Does Dom Dwyer Deserve a Shot with National Team?
March 17, 2017
ON THURSDAY Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer officially became an American citizen. This process has been in the works for years, even before he married United States women’s national team forward Sydney Leroux in 2015, and now the England-born Dwyer is an American.
“I am extremely happy to have completed the process of becoming a U.S. citizen,” Dwyer said. “This country has given me a lot over the past eight years, and I look forward to giving back as much as possible. I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey, most importantly my family and my club. This was a very meaningful day for me, and I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life as a U.S. citizen.”
Dwyer, 26, has flourished both personally and professionally in the United States. After suffering a series of injuries as a teenager in England, he came over to the United States to study without ambitions of becoming a professional player. He played collegiate soccer at Tyler Junior College, where he scored goals at an incredible rate. He used that to transfer to the University of South Florida and after was drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 MLS Superdraft.
From there Dwyer played on loan with then-USL side Orlando City and then back to Sporting Kansas City where he developed into one of the most consistent strikers in the league. His best season came in 2014 when he scored 23 goals in MLS. His production dropped in 2015—he scored just—12 but last year it rose again to 16.
National team ambitions?
Dwyer has made it known that once he became an American citizen, he would be honored to represent the United States internationally. It would make for the first time a husband and wife represented the Stars & Stripes in internationally play. All that stands between Dwyer becoming fully eligible is for FIFA to sign off that he meets the necessary residency requirements on all players who obtain citizenship via naturalization. That should be a mere formality.
But how would Dwyer rank in the forward player pool? How good is he?
The truth is that Dwyer is coming into the fold at the right time. Bobby Wood is the top American forward at the moment. Behind him are Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris. Clint Dempsey is still very much in the picture although he has missed a lot of time recently with an irregular heartbeat and is likely in the tail-end of his great career. Gyasi Zardes will likely re-enter the picture when he’s healthy.
So who is left? Juan Agudelo has always had the talent but has yet to take the next step into becoming a regular with the United States. Aron Johannsson is also in the mix although he missed most of the 2015-16 season with a hip injury and has not played much in 2016-17. Lynden Gooch remains a good prospect for Sunderland but he has yet to score for its senior team. Similarly, Chris Wondolowski has likely been phased out by Arena after getting cut in January camp. Other European options like Bjorn Johnsen, Rubio Rubin, and Andrew Wooten are on the outside looking in for the time being.
Here's what the forward pool looks like right now, includng Dwyer.
1. Bobby Wood
2. Jozy Altidore
3. Jordan Morris
4. Clint Dempsey
5. Juan Agudelo
6. Gyasi Zardes
7. Dom Dwyer
Others: Aron Johannsson, Chris Wondolowski, Lynden Gooch
Without any senior national team experience, it 's hard to see how Dwyer could move ahead of established veterans immediately. But with 51 goals over the last three MLS seasons, Dwyer is likely to get a chance and he could climb this list quickly. His numbers stack up favorably against all other North America-based forwards. Jordan Morris had a great rookie season at 14 goals but Dwyer has surpassed that number twice. Likewise, Gyasi Zardes broke onto the scene in 2014 with 17 goals and Dwyer surpassed him that year while notching stronger follow-up seasons (albeit sometimes Zardes played on the wing).
On top of that, Dwyer is a player known for his intensity. That intensity has been huge for Sporting Kansas City at times as his teammates have fed off his energy.
The worst that happens for Dwyer is that Arena takes four other forwards to Russia. But Dwyer’s numbers, along with Arena’s familiarity with him based on having coached against Dwyer for years, could open the door. Yes the U.S. is in a tough spot in qualifying and it is tough to bring new players into the fold, but if their qualifying situation stabilizes and Arena has the opportunity – either at the Gold Cup or afterward – Dwyer could and should get a shot.
From there, it’s up to the new Yank to make the most of his opportunity in the land of opportunity.
Dwyer will no doubt make his debut on the next ASN 100 ranking of the top American players—where do you think he should land?