The Full 90

Dwyer carrying offensive load for Sporting KC

Dom Dwyer reacts after scoring against Philadelphia earlier this year. Dwyer is one of the league’s leading scorers and has carried much of the offensive burden for KC this year.
Dom Dwyer reacts after scoring against Philadelphia earlier this year. Dwyer is one of the league’s leading scorers and has carried much of the offensive burden for KC this year. The Kansas City Star

Sporting Kansas City might defend together, but right now Dom Dwyer is scoring all by himself.

Of the last 10 goals scored by Kansas City, Dwyer is responsible for seven of them. (Only one of them spawned an Internet sensation though.)

Against Montreal on Saturday, Dwyer again came through for the team scoring off a vicious header in the opening minutes of the game and then out-hustling the Impact defense to score the winner minutes from the end.*

*The Impact will definitely be happy to see the back of the English striker for the season — he’s scored six goals in three games against Montreal this year. As a matter of comparison, the Impact’s leading scorer Jack McInerney has scored six goals in 12 games this year.

Time and time again, Sporting KC has called upon — and depended on — the English striker to deliver. If you’re looking for a reason why KC was able to weather the injury/call-up storm this year and stay in contention in the East, look no further than Dwyer’s scoring record since May: 10 goals in 11 games. (Kansas City went 5-3-3 in that span.)

Obviously, soccer is a team game and it usually takes a team effort to create attacking chances. But when it comes to the final act of finishing those chances, Dwyer has been KC’s only reliable option.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Here are the league leaders in goals scored this season.

1. Brandon Wright-Phillips (New York), 15

2. Dom Dwyer (KC), 14

3. Erick Torres (Chivas), 13

4. Jermain Defoe (Toronto), 10

5. Clint Dempsey (Seattle), 9

Dwyer is obviously scoring a lot, but how reliant is Sporting KC on is to produce goals? Here’s that same list but instead of goals scored, I’ve filtered it by percentage of team goals each player is responsible for this season. (This is purely goals scored and not factoring in assists.)

1. Torres, 65%

2. Dywer, 56%

3. Wright-Phillips, 50%

4. Defoe, 43%

5. Dempsey, 26%

Dempsey and Defoe drop back from the back a little bit. Not surprising for Dempsey, he missed a lot of time during the World Cup and his teammate Obafemi Martins has scored 8 goals this season himself.

Wright-Phillips has been a great finisher this year, but he’s definitely the beneficiary of the Thierry Henry bump.

For Dwyer and Torres, it shows that the balance is off for their respective teams.

Of course, a double-digit goal scorer at this stage of the season is bound to be responsible for most of his team’s goals. That’s sort of the lead striker’s job.

But watch what happens when we factor in a stat that I’m going to make up: Goal Difference Between Teammates (GDBT).

*Basically: How many more goals has Player X scored than his next closest teammate. (It’s not some sexy advanced math, but I think it tells a good story.)

1. Dwyer, +12

2t. Torres, +11

2t. Wright-Phillips, +11

4. Defoe, +7

5. Dempsey +1

That’s a pretty telling number for Dwyer and Torres again. Both have nearly single-handedly kept their teams afloat.*

*It’s usually not a good thing to be linked to anything Chivas related for what it’s worth.

For Kansas City, the next highest-scoring player is defender Aurelien Collin (2) and he hasn’t scored since April 19 — 12 games ago.*

*In case you’re wondering, the average GDBT for the leading scorer on each team is about 4.

Last year’s squad featured a more balanced load with Bieler leading the team with 10 goals and only a +3 GDBT over Kei Kamara. Graham Zusi chipped in six goals, Soony Saad and C.J. Sapong contributed four each.

So far, Kansas City’s other forwards — Zusi, Antonio Dovale, Jacob Peterson, Bieler, Saad, Sal Zizzo and Sapong — have a combined five goals.

While there are good reasons for the drop off — Zusi was at the World Cup, Sapong, Saad and Zizzo have all been injured at some point this year, and Bieler has fallen off the radar — that stat is troubling. It’s dangerously close to Dwyer or nothing for KC’s offense.

One of the biggest questions this offseason was “Who will score the goals for KC?”

Dwyer definitely answered that question and then some.*

*He’s four goals away from tying Preki’s single-season franchise record of 18 goals for crying out loud. I’ll eat some crow for doubting him earlier this season.

The question now though, which needs answering soon, is “Who is going to help him?”