Valentine’s Day turned out to be a perfect day for soccer in Tucson, Ariz., but only for an Englishman.
While most players were a little miserable slogging through the cold and rain during Sporting Kansas City’s preseason win, the club’s first-round draft choice couldn’t 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 KC’s interest, managed tallies in the 70th, 79th and 90th minutes during a 5-1 win against FC Tucson.
While it wasn’t exactly a road battle with the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, Dwyer’s 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, it’s 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 I’m worth it.”
With Teal Bunbury, who is currently in camp with the U.S. under-23 men’s 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.
“He’s 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 guy’s 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.
“It’s 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. That’s what we saw from him (in college) and what we liked about him.”
For his part, Dwyer, who recently received his green card and won’t require an international roster spot, feels like he landed in a perfect situation and he’d love to duplicate Sapong’s debut season, which netted the MLS Rookie of the Year honor.
“I’m in a great set-up and this is the right environment for me to flourish like C.J. did, but I’ve got to just keep training hard and be ready if I’m 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, it’s what I expected, because I expected it to be tough and for the soccer to be at a high level,” Dwyer said. “That’s exactly what it is. It’s fast and physical. It’s been good and I’m in a good learning environment.”