8614_isi_dwyerdom_mlsack042614141 Andrew Katsampes/isiphotos.com
Player Spotlight

Does Dom Dwyer Have a U.S. National Team Future?

The England-born Sporting Kansas City striker was a late add to the 2014 MLS All-Star team. If things break a certain way, he could even end up as a late add for the Stars and Stripes someday.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 06, 2014
10:28 AM
ON SATURDAY NIGHT in Las Vegas, as Dom Dwyer was attending a friend’s bachelor party, a call came in for him. After being a shocking snub for the MLS All-Star Game, Dwyer learned that he was a late addition and had to make his way to Portland for his first appearance in the annual festivities.

Dwyer, who turned 24 last week, has had plenty to celebrate. He helped Kansas City to the MLS title in 2013 and is currently the league’s second-leading scorer with 14 goals in 22 games.

Kansas City supporters have known about Dwyer’s quality for some time now, but the forward is experiencing broader respect these days, and it's easy to see why. Since April 7, 2013, when playing for either Sporting Kansas City or in the USL with Orlando City, Dwyer has scored 39 goals in 62 appearances (with 42 coming as starts) in cup or league matches. He even grabbed national headlines with his July 6 “selfie goal celebration” in a 1-1 draw with Chicago.

“There’s not a chance I would have believed it if you told me when I was kicking it around in junior college when I was hoping to maybe get a Division I scholarship,” Dwyer pointed out.

Born in Cuckfield, England, Dwyer made his way to the United States for college. In 2009 he played soccer for Tyler Junior College in Texas before moving to the University of South Florida where he attracted interest from MLS scouts.

“Nobody is going to outwork Dom,” Tyler head coach Steven Clements said. “He’s a guy you’re going to have to run off the field after practice because he’s always working extra. The snub in the beginning would be fuel to the fire for Dom Dwyer. He’ll feed off of that. He’ll be more intent to succeed because of something like that. He’s not knocked down by set back. He’s more driven by a challenge.”

Selected with the 16th overall pick by Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 SuperDraft, Dwyer gradually progressed before going on a goal-scoring tear in 2013 while on loan to Orlando City. The run of good form carried over when he returned to Kansas City.

“He is a handful,” Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes said last month. “He’s got a work ethic that is incredible and at the same time an incredible hunger to score goals. He really doesn’t stop until you take him off the field.

"His hunger and his courage are two things that win the day for him.”

Dwyer acknowledges that despite his success in the United States, he is not waiting by the phone for a call to play for England. MLS is simply not on the radar of England’s coaches.

“When you’re in England you get a lot of exposure,” Dwyer explained. “It’s very difficult for [English] players in MLS to get noticed because if you grow up in England, you go through the youth academies. I’m sure the England coach doesn’t even know my name. That’s kind of how football is sometimes but that is a gap that will be bridged in years to come.”

Dwyer respects what MLS has done for him and laments the overuse of foreign players in the English leagues, arguing that it crowds young English players out. He points to the fact that MLS opens the door for younger American players through mechanisms such as the homegrown rule.

“MLS is obviously trying to learn things from English leagues and other leagues around the world," Dwyer said, "but there’s a lot that other leagues can learn from MLS too.”

While MLS was once viewed with skepticism in England, he believes the perception is changing. With the sizable Designated Player salaries, the success of the U.S. team, and the quality of players that are coming over to the U.S., Dwyer believes that MLS is “not maybe what their first thought was and that’s maybe why it’s changing.”

As for his future in MLS, Dwyer reveals that the “dream when I was younger was always to play in England.” Still, he is enjoying his time with Kansas City, which is a club that has proven to be a popular destination for players. The biggest American soccer story after the World Cup was the decision of U.S. national team starters Graham Zusi and Matt Besler to re-sign with Kansas City rather than pursuing European options.

Dwyer was “delighted” by the decision of his teammates to return, calling them “two of the best I have ever played with” and insisting that he wants to have the best players around him to reach his potential.

While Kansas City has been able to hold onto its best players so far, there are salary cap and Designated Player limitations to consider, and now with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire in March 2015, changes could be coming. Dwyer’s preference is to stay with Sporting KC but he realizes that there are other factors at play and a return to England is not completely out of the question.

“There’s been some interest in England,” Dwyer said. “It’s always good to listen. At the end of the day I am signed with Kansas City and anything that happens will be up to them right now. It’s a club that is growing and just showed commitment to two players in Besler and Zusi in making them long-term deals.

"I’d like to stay in Kansas City. I’m enjoying myself but at the same time it’s not totally up to me. We’ll see how things go.”

As Dwyer prepares to face off against Bayern Munich with the All-Star team, he will have the chance to play with the likes of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, DeAndre Yedlin, Kyle Beckerman, Omar Gonzalez as well as Zusi and Besler.

Those are just a few of his teammates on the All-Star team but they could also become his teammates in the future on a bigger stage.

Last month, Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman tweeted out the news that Dwyer’s American citizenship was pending and that he wanted to start up enthusiasm for his involvement on the national team. With the strong season he has had, it sparked off excitement among American fans to potentially have Dwyer in the fold.

Dwyer was surprised by Heineman’s tweet as he never planned for information to go public, but now adds that he expects to receive his U.S. passport on February 14, 2017—in time for the hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. One thing he was not expecting, however, was the positive reaction among fans.

“Once it came out, I kind of thought about it and there was so much positive feedback and excitement, it got me excited,” Dwyer recalled. “Even Zusi and Besler were saying to me how great it would be and how much I would love it. I think the U.S. has a fantastic thing going on. If I was ever to be called up, it would be an absolute honor.

"I’m a big fan of Jurgen Klinsmann and a big fan of the guys on the team.”

The topic of his nationality has been something which Dwyer wanted to keep private at the beginning of his career. At the time he was drafted, he took up one of the limited foreign player spots, and to him that was an honor. When his green card came through, he no longer counted against the foreign player cap.

“[My dad] worked in America for a little bit and he applied for my green card,” Dwyer recalled. “It was accepted. Kansas City didn’t know that at the time so I was taking up an international spot. My green card came through a couple of months after that [and] they were extra pleased. But that is something I didn’t want teams to know about. [I wanted to be drafted] for the right reasons.

“I was Generation Adidas so I didn’t count against the salary cap. I really liked to be somewhere where I feel wanted and valued. International spots are tough to come by. Whether Kansas knew or not, I’m not sure. I tried to keep it a secret.”

With all of the changes for Dwyer over the past 13 months, the next few years could bring even more surprises. New contract discussions and international decisions could be around the corner. But for now, he is still simply trying to take things on a game-by-game basis.

“It’s exciting,” Dwyer said with a laugh. “But I’m just going with the flow and I don’t want to get ahead of myself or think I’m better than I am.”

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

Post a comment