Valentines Day turned out to be a perfect day for soccer in Tucson, Ariz., but only for an Englishman.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
While most players were a little miserable slogging through the cold and rain during Sporting Kansas Citys preseason win, the clubs first-round draft choice couldnt have been more comfortable.
It felt a bit like being back home (in London), said Dom Dwyer, who Sporting KC selected 16th overall from the University of South Florida. It was a little bit colder than back home, but I like playing in the rain and it was very similar. It was a weird day for Phoenix, but I enjoyed it.
He enjoyed it even more after netting a hat trick in a 20-minute span during the second half.
Dwyer, a Generation Adidas player whose affinity for finding the back of the net piqued Sporting KCs interest, managed tallies in the 70th, 79th and 90th minutes during a 5-1 win against FC Tucson.
While it wasnt exactly a road battle with the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, Dwyers outburst was a welcome sight for Sporting KC and its fans.
It felt good just to get on the score sheet, Dwyer said. Once you get that first one, its always easier and I was glad to get that behind me. They had faith in me picking me in the first round, so I had to pay them back for that and prove that Im worth it.
With Teal Bunbury, who is currently in camp with the U.S. under-23 mens national team, expected to miss a chunk of the season and both C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara likely to see international duty as well, the need for additional depth at forward was pressing.
Hes still got a long way to go, but he has the qualities that it takes and he gives us a little different look than our other guys up top, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. Dom is a little Sherman tank. The guys a bull, which is different than the other forwards we have.
Look no further than the goals he scored on the final day of training in Arizona.
Its more the kind of goals he scored that was so good to see, Vermes said. Two of the three were very opportunistic. The other, he was strong and he turned and then accelerated with a good move by the defender. Thats what we saw from him (in college) and what we liked about him.
For his part, Dwyer, who recently received his green card and wont require an international roster spot, feels like he landed in a perfect situation and hed love to duplicate Sapongs debut season, which netted the MLS Rookie of the Year honor.
Im in a great set-up and this is the right environment for me to flourish like C.J. did, but Ive got to just keep training hard and be ready if Im called upon by the coaches, Dwyer said. Hopefully, I can help the team succeed.
Right now, he is soaking up as much knowledge as he can from Kamara and other veterans on the squad.
So far, its what I expected, because I expected it to be tough and for the soccer to be at a high level, Dwyer said. Thats exactly what it is. Its fast and physical. Its been good and Im in a good learning environment.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com