McGuire ambitious for future following Orlando breakout, eyeing Europe and Olympics
July 11, 2023
A LITTLE OVER A year ago, it would have been quite a stretch to predict that Duncan McGuire would have been among the top American breakout performers of 2023. It was at that time when he was coming off a sophomore season in 2021 at Creighton University where he scored just one goal in 19 games.
But since then, McGuire has had an astonishing rise. The 2022 NCAA season in his junior year he scored 23 goals in 24 games and was awarded the Herman Trophy as the NCAA’s best player. Six of his goals came in the team’s run to win the Big East Tournament.
With that, McGuire decided to turn professional and was selected by Orlando City with the sixth place in the 2023 MLS Draft. Since he was signed, he has continued to rise. In his first professional season, McGuire has, so far, scored seven goals in just 750 minutes and been one of the most productive center forwards in the league.
“At the beginning of my college career, I didn't have the size or confidence yet,” McGuire told ASN. “It all started at this time a year ago when the spring season came. I got confident and I became really comfortable with my teammates. We had a good bond. We all had a good understanding of each other, which was I think was one of my keys to success at Creighton.”
American forward Duncan McGuire - 6 goals in 512 minutes. What a start to Omaha native’s career in his first pro season. pic.twitter.com/67H4m8bPla— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 22, 2023
“Along with the success I am having here, I am having good relationships and bonds with my teammates on and off the field - and that is carrying over into my play,” he added.
While Orlando recently suffered a tough loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend, the club has been trending upward in recent weeks and currently sits seventh in the Eastern Conference. But McGuire has been able to make a seamless transition from the college ranks to the professional level.
McGuire’s success has closely resembled Daryl Dike who was a Midwest native, became a top NCAA player at the University of Virginia, was later drafted by Orlando, had an exceptional rookie season, climbed up to the national team level, and finally earned a transfer abroad.
"Similar players in terms of willingness and energy and big body in presence up top, both of them have willingness to work," Orlando manager Oscar Pareja said of compariing Dike and McGuire while adding that McGuire has adapted to MLS quicker.
With his fifth goal this season, the rookie Duncan McGuire pulls one back for Orlando. pic.twitter.com/kw7BqP3zmf— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 18, 2023
In addition, McGuire, like Dike, is fun to watch. He is a big forward that is also mobile. When he scores, he celebrates with a backflip – which he learned with friends in his back yard growing up.
“The physicality and the level of play isn't what it is here, but it got me ready for the next step,” McGuire said of the college game. “Playing that many games in three months - and I know the season is a lot shorter than the MLS season - but you play just as many games in a short amount of time. That really gets your body ready for the next level. You learn a lot about your body and how to take care of yourself. I have brought a lot of that with me to the next level.”
But still, he has exceeded the expectations he set for himself after signing for Orlando following the draft.
“I would definitely say it is above what I expected,” McGuire said “I was hoping to get into a few games and score a few goals while doing that. But this has been above my expectations… The whole group, we're feeling really confident right now. I think we've been gaining confidence and playing well these past few weeks.”
The move to Orlando is also the first time McGuire has moved out of Nebraska in his career except for a brief run with Lane United of the USL2 prior to his 2022 NCAA season. As a native of Omaha, McGuire had to put in extra work to help close the gap that might exist between him and players who develop in more soccer-established regions of the country.
“Omaha is actually a bigger soccer town than most people would think,” McGuire said. “It wasn't like Texas, or the teams in Florida, North Carolina where you get great competition all the time. But I did a lot of extra practices and was always looking to get in all the meaningful practices I could.”
“It's hard moving away from home,” he added or Orlando. “It was all I knew. I was ready to move away. The weather is not something I am used to. The humidity is unreal.”
But McGuire remains ambitious about his future with several specific goals. He wants to win a trophy for Orlando this year and the rookie of the year is also within his possibilities. He also wants to make a move to Europe, in a manner similar to Dike. When asked, he is clear: “Europe is something that has always been on my mind. It's definitely a goal of mine to play there.”
To help him possibly in making a move abroad, he has begun exploring the procedures and the process of obtaining a Polish passport through his maternal grandfather.
But there is also the international side of the game. McGuire has yet to represent the United States internationally at the youth levels, but he has a clear opportunity now that the U.S. U-23 team has qualified for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. McGuire, 22, was born in 2001 which is the cutoff year for the tournament.
The U.S. U-23 team should begin preparations for the Olympics this year and McGuire wants to be there as a way of continuing his rapid accent that started a year ago.
“I would definitely say it is 100% one of my goals for my future,” McGuire said. “You grow up here watching the Olympics and you think about how cool it would be to compete and be one of those athletes. Now it looks like it could be a possibility and it is something I have always wanted to do. So, I am definitely going to push as hard as I can to make that team and represent my country.”