Forward Dom Dwyer is suiting up for the 2022 Major League Season with his fourth different club in Major League Soccer. Born in Cuckfield, West Sussex, and playing his youth career in England, Dwyer found form at Tyler Junior College (TX) and South Florida before bursting onto the scene after Sporting Kansas City took him in the MLS Superdraft in 2012. The past few years have been a bit up and down, so Dwyer will be looking to regain some of that form that made him so lethal with Sporting KC.
Dom Dwyer's Time with Atlanta United
While some may have expected that to be an easy-to-do task with his new team Atlanta United FC, the Eastern Conference is looking to be a tough ask this season. The Philadelphia Union are the only undefeated team in MLS, and don't look to be slowing down. Meanwhile, two of Dwyer's former clubs, Orlando City SC and Toronto FC, are enjoying a decent start to the regular season as well.
By no means are Atlanta doing poorly, but they'll need their veteran striker to start finding the back of the net on a consistent basis in order to compete for a playoff spot. With the absence of talisman Josef Martinez, Dwyer's opportunity to show he can still lead the line is now. Atlanta really needs to stack up the points now, with the likes of New England and NYCFC not able to hit their groove yet. All in all, competition in the east seems to be at a high we haven't seen in quite some time.
While there's the expectation that Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls will be in contention, and Cincinnati would not be, there's been some surprises this year in Charlotte and Chicago. This will make the run-up to the MLS All-Star break real interesting. As, by that point, we should have a better view on the reality of how the playoffs may shake out.
This is where Dom Dwyer has the opportunity to excel. In Atlanta's season opener, Dwyer came on as a first-half sub due to an injury to Luiz Araújo, and netted his first goal in two seasons against his former team, SKC. The goal helped the club to their first victory of the season.
While nobody wishes injury upon anyone, Atlanta's woes may prove mutually beneficial for Dwyer. For the short term, it will provide regular football, which should assist in boosting confidence and reinvigorating Dom's career. Long term, if he's able to stand up to the task, Atlanta will have the quality depth and rotation necessary to make a legitimate run at another MLS Cup, a potential berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, and maybe even an MLS Open Cup victory. If he can find the right link up with Argentinian midfield trio Santiago Sosa, Thiago Almada, and Marcelino Moreno, fireworks could be going off in Georgia.
Soccer is in Dom Dwyer's DNA
So what are the intangibles Dwyer brings to the game? To start, he and ex-wife Sydney Leroux have soccer in their blood. Lucky enough to both play in Orlando for a period of time, they were able to settle into a routine, which Dwyer will be looking to re-establish in a different way now that he's returned from a year of exile in Canada, and a trade that saw FC Dallas immediately buy out his contract, sending him to free agency.
Dwyer is best when he's able to split the defenders with his speed. He's not a particularly tall forward, standing only at 5'9", so his work rate is what will get him goals, particularly now as he navigates reigniting his career in his early 30s.
In the time that Atlanta's injuries are at their worst, they'll be running up against the likes of Cincinnati, Inter Miami, and CF Montréal. If Dwyer can really establish himself in these matches, racking up a couple more goals and building confidence, it should give him the opportunity to be a force in the tougher matches in that stretch.
New England, Nashville, and Columbus should all be winnable, but there will be no guarantees. And by the time Atlanta United is up against Western Conference giants such as Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy, they should be back at full health.
The question becomes whether Dwyer will factor into those matches. Whether he stays a starter or becomes a super sub who can provide that spark needed off the bench later in the second half. And it's absolutely doable. Manger Gonzalo Pineda is putting his faith in the MLS veteran, and I would be surprised if he is unable to deliver.
Of course, only time will tell. But, so far, Dom Dwyer is proving that maybe he should have gotten more time in Toronto. And maybe he shouldn't have been bought out by Dallas. What I do know is that he will be giving it everything he has, and he has the chance to be Atlanta's not-so-secret weapon in their quest for Eastern Conference dominance.
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