2014 has been a real breakthrough year for Dom Dwyer, who went from fringe player to Sporting Kansas City’s MVP and the MLS’ second top scorer.
Having been born in West Sussex, Dwyer began his career at Norwich City’s academy before moving to joining a scheme which saw him feature for Conference side King’s Lynn.
His early career was full of setbacks. During his time at college, he suffered three breaks to his right foot.
However, the injuries could not prevent the forward from being drafted by Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 MLS Superdraft, having come through the American college system. He was offered the chance to do so by former Chelsea player Joe McLaughlin, whose company “specialises in scouting top young footballers to play soccer in America”.
The English striker managed just two appearances in his debut season before being loaned out for the 2013 season to third tier side Orlando City. Here, he fired 22 goals in just 15 games, enough to earn him a recall in time to help Sporting KC to the MLS title.
Despite a goal in the Eastern Conference final, 24-year-old Dwyer was far from a guaranteed starter, but last season, he became exactly that.
23 goals in 34 MLS appearances last season saw him earn cult status in the US, becoming a firm fans’ favourite with the Kansas City crowd. This is not just down to his countless goals, it is only due to his eccentric goal celebration exploits, whether it be a backflip or taking a ‘selfie’ on the pitch after scoring yet another goal.
His exploits also saw him called up to the MLS All Star team, where he featured in the 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the annual star-studded exhibition match.
Last year culminated in the playoffs for Sporting KC, who were looking to defend their MLS Cup. In the first round, KC travelled to New York Red Bulls in a match which saw the MLS’ two top scorers go head to head – Dwyer and his compatriot Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The match would end in disappointment for the former Norwich youngster as, despite giving his side the lead, Wright-Phillips fired two late goals to knock KC out at the first hurdle.
Despite failing to retain their title, Dwyer could be more than proud of what he achieved last year.
At 24, he still has the best years of his career ahead of him and a move back to England or elsewhere in Europe is still a possibility in the future. The experience in the MLS, will have only benefited his talent, proving a move abroad can be a superb platform for aspiring English players.
The 2014 season has been the stuff of dreams for Dwyer. He finished as the league’s second top scorer and achieved national recognition with a call-up the the MLS All Star team.
This year will see him come back stronger, as he attempts to guide his side to his second MLS Cup title.