Coutesy of ussoccer.com
The goals have always come in droves for Dom Dwyer, but it's safe to say he hadn't considered his latest one for some time. One of the most prolific forwards the past four seasons in Major League Soccer, the English-born striker gained his U.S. citizenship in March, paving the way for this month's long-anticipated U.S. Men's National Team call-up for the Gold Cup.
In so many ways, his path to the U.S. MNT epitomizes the American dream.
"It's brilliant," the Sporting KC forward told ussoccer.com after his first U.S. MNT training session Monday. "It's something I've really worked hard for, and it's really nice to actually be here now and be around the guys."
A Norwich City product, Dwyer had professional dreams, but after breaking his right foot on three different occasions he mostly gave up on the idea of making soccer his career. Handed the chance to get a free education in the U.S., he jumped at a scholarship to play at Tyler Junior College in Texas in 2009 and went on to lead the school to back-to-back national championships before winning the Junior College Player of the Year award his sophomore season.
That attracted interest from the University of South Florida, where Dwyer continued his scoring tear by racking up 16 goals in 21 matches, putting him in the shop window for the M.L.S. SuperDraft in 2012. Selected 16th overall by Sporting KC, the young striker initially found playing time hard to come by, but maintained his scoring touch when he went out on loan to the USL iteration of Orlando City SC in 2013. There, he recorded 15 goals in 13 matches, earning himself a recall to Kansas City where he lifted an M.L.S. Cup later that season and made a name for himself ever since.
A constant in the Sporting KC lineup, Dwyer has shown to be a pure finisher as he's tallied a remarkable 57 regular season goals – the fourth most in M.L.S. since 2012 – and racked up double-digit marks each of the past three seasons. With five goals already in 2017, he seems a good bet to extend the streak to four.
As the goals continued to come, Dwyer admits the idea of playing for the U.S. moved further up in his mind.
"I think it became a reality maybe three or four years ago that this could happen," he said. "It's something that I started to work really hard for since then. I'm delighted to be here, and I really hope I can give back to the country that's given me a lot."
Along with reviving a career he might otherwise have lost, the U.S. is also where he met his wife, U.S. Women's National Team forward Sydney Leroux. The two began dating in 2014 and were married the following January, just months before Leroux helped the U.S. WNT to its third World Cup title that summer in Canada.
With the couple welcoming their son Cassius into the world last September, Leroux returned to the WNT from maternity leave during the side's friendlies against Sweden and Norway earlier this month. And while other U.S. couples have suited up for their respective national sides at different points in their careers, it is believed that Dwyer and Leroux are the first married couple to have been called into their respective national teams at roughly the same time.
Married Couples That Have Played for the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams
On Sunday, Leroux had no trouble hiding her excitement at Dwyer's official call-up and the striker said he credits her as an inspiration and for giving some advice as he came into camp.
"She's been there and done it all. Even though it's a little different, it's still the same kind of thing. She's got good words of advice and she's experienced a lot."
And while he'll fall into that modern-day football category of being a "dual national", Dwyer is adamant that he very much feels a part of the fabric of the United States.
"I think that's the beautiful thing about the U.S. They're very welcoming to all, and it's an opportunity for me. My wife is American, my son is American, I've grown a lot of my life here as well and I'm delighted to have this opportunity. I hope the nation can welcome me as well and that I can pay back some love."
Focused now on integrating into the team, he realizes the extended opportunity to impress Bruce Arena and his staff is a golden one. He'll have his first chance at earning a cap in Saturday's friendly against Ghana before helping the USA go for its sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup title next month.
"There's a lot of excitement. I bring my passion and I really just want to go for it. I hope I can bring some goals to the side and help them succeed. Right now the goal is to win the tournament, and that's what we're really focused on."