The world of professional sports is as frustrating and unforgiving as it is popular and rewarding. Even the brightest of stars have to earn their keep, with their past successes becoming virtually forgotten upon their entrance into the professional ranks.
Despite an illustrious collegiate career, former Gator Tim Tebow sat behind quarterback Kyle Orton for the majority of his rookie season, playing in nine total games and starting the final three of the season. Steven Strasburg, the most hyped MLB draft pick ever according to ESPN, spent eight months in the Nationals minor league system before earning a starting role on the team.
Six months after being drafted 16th overall in the 2012 Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft by Sporting Kansas City, a former USF star has found himself the midst of the same situation.
Former USF striker Dom Dwyer has spent the majority of his rookie campaign waiting.
Waiting for one shot on the field for his chance to prove himself at the professional level and return to the full height of his career.
Due in large part to playing behind 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong and breakout player Teal Bunbury, Dwyer is one of three 2012 first-round draft picks who have yet to log a minute in MLS league play.
Its challenging, Dwyer said. I cant lie. Theres definitely some frustration, but you really have to channel that frustration and know that you will get your chance. You have to put a smile on your face and enjoy the fact that youre playing for your dream.
Since moving to the United States from England in 2009 to attend Tyler Junior College (TJC) in Texas, Dwyer has seen a copious amount of success. In his two years at TJC, Dwyer, along with fellow USF Bulls Kyle Nicholls and Brenton Griffiths, won two national championships.
Dwyer scored 37 goals in his sophomore year, winning the Junior College Player of the Year award. His encore performance was his 14 goal season in 2011 at USF, when he led the Bulls to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Dwyer won Big East Offensive Player of the Year for his offensive success.
Tyler was definitely fun, but easier, Dwyer said. I scored a lot of goals, we didnt lose for two years and dominated that scene, he said. At that level, you can get away with little habits use your strength and speed instead of skills. USF was much higher. We had to watch film, learn your play (and) see things to do better. You learn more from better coaches, one on one meeting with them. I learned a lot from them and from my teammates, including my best friend, Kyle Nicholls. Sometimes I miss it, it was a difficult decision to leave.
Despite the difficulty of his choice, Dwyer said he refuses to look back at his time in college. He said he values the experience of professional soccer, even if he has to watch and learn from the veterans on his team.
It was tough, but I decided to leave, he said. I had to think about myself and my dream. I went to MLS, and its a big step up, but I feel like Im improving every single day. There are so many veterans on this team … so you learn a lot from players, and Im the new guy, so theyve all been really welcoming, and I have made some good friends.
Although Dwyer may not be playing as much as hed like to on game day, his play on the practice pitch and reserve games has been turning heads.
In seven MLS Reserve League games, Dwyer is tied for the team lead with two goals. He said his play on the practice pitch could prove to be more important than his game day performance.
Some days at practice you just go through the motions, but it really is so important to give it your everythingevery single day, he said. You never know who is watching there could be a pro scout from Manchester United. You have to know that youll fit into someones place somewhere, and good things will come with practicing hard … goodpractice methods can be the difference between a 10- to 15-year career and a three-year career. Thats what I want here at Sporting Kansas City to be one of the top guys, like what I got to do at USF. Hopefully I can do the same thing here.