After the 2011-12 men’s soccer season, USF star player, forward Dom Dwyer was selected 16th overall in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by Sporting Kansas City. He was a junior at the time.
Dwyer’s decision wasn’t as simple as it may seem. To the average fan, Dwyer played well for a team that was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation and went as far as the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 16 goals on the season, which led the Big East and it made sense for him to be drafted. But that was only the surface of Dwyer’s decision.
“It was really crazy,” Dwyer said. “I had to speak with my family and take a lot of time out. It was a life changing decision to make and I really wanted to stay. There was a point where I said I wasn’t going to leave.”
What made the choice to go pro so difficult was not only leaving college a year early, but also having spent only a year with the team before leaving to the MLS.
“It was something I wasn’t sure about,” Dwyer said. “I really wanted a championship at USF and I felt like we could have done that had I stayed another year.”
Dwyer said he loved the time spent with his “family” at USF, but his one wish was to win a championship.Nevertheless, he said he has no regrets.
“The dream is to play professionally,” Dwyer said. “When someone is holding that contract in front of your eyes, it’s very difficult to say no to that.”
Now, in what is technically his second year with the team, Dwyer is finally starting to see action on the field — something he’s been waiting for since the draft.
On Aug. 3, with two minutes of extra time added on, Dwyer found the back of the net and scored his first goal as an MLS soccer player. Many would think the feeling would be amazing and like no other, but Dwyer said it was business as usual.
“I felt normal,” Dwyer said. “I was just thinking about winning the game and getting the ball to score another goal.”
While the match ended in a 3-2 loss for Kansas City, Dwyer stepped onto the
playing field yet again and found himself one on one with a defender just outside the box. That’s when Dwyer put on a quick move to the right and sailed in the ball off the right goal post to score another late goal in the 76th
minute of play, sealing a 2-0 shutout over Real Esteli.
Four games have passed since Dwyer’s first goal in the MLS and he said the success hasn’t gone to his head. Still receiving texts and emails from former teammates at USF, and even coach George Kiefer, Dwyer said he has managed to stay humble.
“You just have to watch what you do when you’re out in public and realize that you’re often someone’s role model,” Dwyer said. “I’ll never change. My friends wouldn’t allow that. Wherever I go, no matter how successful
I become, I’m never going to change. That’s not me.”
While the success has been great to experience for Dwyer, it’s the patience he’s had to have that got him to this point in the first place.
Over the past three years, Dwyer wasn’t on the sidelines for Kansas City, but was put on loan to ULS team Orlando City for a year before showing his skills and moving back up to the MLS.
While on the loan just a year after being drafted, Dwyer said it was hard work that got him through what was a difficult time.
“The hardest part is trying to be patient,” Dwyer said. “But I was patient, it helped me and made me more hungry to play.”
With Orlando, one would think his appetite for playing was more than satisfied. Feeling the need to prove himself, Dwyer put up an impressive 15 goals on the 13-game season, earning him a four-way tie for the Golden Boot, an award given to the league’s leading goal scorer.
What Dwyer did that season more than showed he has what it takes to play in the MLS. Former USF teammate and current player, senior defender Ricardo Webb said Dwyer did something more.
“I watch his games, especially when he was in Orlando City,” Webb said. “Just watching him and the success that he’s had shows that hard work pays off. What he did was become an example to show that we can go pro.”
Dwyer and Webb were both part of the Bulls’ Elite Eight team in 2011 and what Webb said Dwyer brought to the team that year was “on another level” and “other forwards wanted to be like Dom Dwyer.”
“It was always fun to be around him,” Webb said. “He always
wanted to have a good time, but he knew how to control himself and act professional off the field.”
Now as a professional, Dwyer has been through his ups and downs and said he’s focusing on staying consistent and establishing himself enough to start in an MLS match, something he hasn’t done yet.
Among all else, Dwyer is still hungry for his next goal and while he said he would have liked it to have been during his first year, he eventually got it. Now, Dwyer is set on moving forward with his MLS career.
“I wanted to be here sooner,” Dwyer said. “I wanted it last year, but I had to be patient. Now I’m just enjoying it and getting more playing time and hopefully more goals.”