Returning to Orlando City was a dream come true for Dom Dwyer.
According to the forward, he was surprised in a good way when he found out Orlando City was inquiring about him, but returning to Central Florida was something he always dreamed about.
Dwyer became an instant legend at the club during his time with the Lions in 2013, in which he scored 15 goals in 13 appearances, including a four-goal performance during the 2013 USL championship game.
“The moment I left Orlando in 2013, I definitely felt like I left something here,” Dwyer said on Wednesday. “I was delighted to come back for the championship game, and play that. I still felt like I had some unfinished business. Now the club has evolved, and it’s a new place, it’s a new team… it’s time to try to bring a championship to Orlando.”
Dwyer’s introduction to the club came in 2013. Having been loaned down to a then-USL club from Sporting Kansas City, the forward saw an opportunity to grow as a player… but an admiration for the club also grew.
“I came to a team that was the best team in their league at the time,” said Dwyer. “It’s an easy situation to come to when you go to the best squad, you know you’re going to get chances. Now as a forward, I’m always confident in my ability that I can score goals.”
“Now the club has evolved, and it’s a new place, it’s a new team… it’s time to try to bring a championship to Orlando.” — Dom Dwyer on returning to Orlando City.
To improve the team
There’s no denying it, halfway through the 2017 MLS season, the Lions are dropping points and are in need of goals.
Orlando City has the second-worst offense in the Eastern Conference with 22 goals scored.
Adding Dwyer to the fray increases those scoring chances for Orlando.
“We feel like we need it just from a talent & depth perspective… a lil bit of an emotional push would be nice,” Orlando head coach Jason Kreis said during Tuesday’s training session when asked about the club looking to acquire a proven striker.
“That’s absolutely the goal,” Dwyer said on Orlando making the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs. “No doubt in my mind, this team has enough talent to do it, as long as we can collectively perform well, and just be a solid group.
“I haven’t met all the guys yet, but I heard there’s a great team togetherness. With that, always comes great team chemistry. I want to improve the group, I believe I can help.”
The Purple Temple
When Dwyer played his final game in a purple kit during his first stint with Orlando, he lifted the 2013 USL championship in front of 20,886 fans at the Citrus Bowl.
Not only did the growth of the club and fan base put the country on notice during that evening on Sept. 7, but for Dwyer, his return comes at a point when the club is realizing its potential.
Being able to play at Orlando City Stadium is the pinnacle, a place that stood out for Dwyer.
“The stadium. First time coming here today. I saw the plans for it when I came in 2013, to see it here in the flesh now, to be able to play in it in a couple week is amazing for me,” said Dwyer.
To chase his dreams
Dwyer spent six seasons at Kansas City.
In 2013, he won a USL title with the Lions and MLS Cup with Sporting KC. He married United States women’s national team star Sydney Leroux in 2015 and his firstborn followed in 2016.
After becoming a naturalized citizen earlier this year, Dwyer fulfilled his dream of playing for the United States men’s national team.
But an encouraging word from his wife Sydney propelled Dwyer to follow another dream with Orlando City.
“She’s great. We try to support each other as much as we can. This was a decision she left all up to me. ‘Chase your dreams’ was her answer, and that’s why she’s so special to me,” he said.
The long run
Dwyer may have joined Orlando City during the second half of the 2017 MLS season, but what are the chances he remains a Lion long term?
Dwyer’s current contract is almost up, and according to a report from FourFourTwo, the striker could sign a pre-contract next year with another team to leave on a free transfer.
As for Dwyer, he didn’t fully go into details regarding his status on signing a new contract with Orlando City, but is open to the club’s long-term goals.
“It’s something that’s dealt with outside — agents and stuff will deal with that. Right now, I’m focused on playing, I’m trying to work hard and perform well for this team,” Dwyer said. “If that’s something the club wants to do, then of course I’m very open to that. They traded a lot for me, so I assume I’m in their long-term goals… I hope so anyways.”
(Photos Courtesy of Orlando City)
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