Dom Dwyer Returns for USL PRO Final

Orlando City expecting a record crowd for the championship
by Danny Morales   |   Saturday, September 07, 2013

Purple Pride – column on Orlando City SC (OCSC) & the Orlando & Central Florida area soccer scene.

ORLANDO – At this time last year Orlando City was already in the offseason. This year the Lions are in a much different position as they prepare to play the Charlotte Eagles on Saturday night for the USL PRO championship.

Orlando City will have the services of USL PRO leading scorer Dom Dwyer for Saturday’s championship match after the English forward was sent back down to Orlando, following his mid-season recall by Sporting Kansas City from his loan with the Lions.

“It feels good to be back here,” said Dwyer about his return to Orlando. “We’re just excited for tomorrow and we’re going to have a good go at it.”

Dwyer netted a record 15 goals in 14 regular-season games before being called-up by Sporting. The Lions offense has struggled to find a striker to replace Dwyer during his absence, as Orlando City’s average goals per game has dropped from 2.33 per game with him in the lineup to two goals per game without Dwyer.

The striker out of Cuckfield, England played his final 2 collegiate seasons in the Sunshine State with the University of South Florida (USF). Dwyer lead USF to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight appearance during his senior year.

Now Dwyer looks to win his 1st professional championship with the same club that he recorded his first professional hat trick for.

“Everything feels like it’s in place,” said Dwyer when asked if he feels like his career has come full circle. “It feels like it’s meant to be. It was unfortunate, my last game was against Chicago where we got crushed and it didn’t end well.

“I didn’t want to go out that way and it didn’t feel great,” added Dwyer after Friday’s practice. “So to be able to get the chance to finish it off tomorrow and finish it properly, I’m very excited about it.”

Orlando City was defeated by the Chicago Fire 5-1 in Dwyer’s last game before being recalled to Kansas City and the forward hopes to use the championship game to finish the season on the right foot.

Dwyer’s return to Orlando comes on the heels of forward Long Tan’s red card in the semifinals last Friday.

The Lions have set a goal of packing the Citrus Bowl with 15,000 fans for Saturday’s home game. The Citrus Bowl’s lower bowl seats less than 15,000, so reaching that number would result in a sellout of the entire lower bowl. This is something Orlando City president Phil Rawlins thinks is possible.

 “We have a mission, #Mission15K, which we sent out right after Richmond got defeated on Saturday,” said Rollins at Friday’s championship press conference. “Mission 15K I’m delighted to tell you is on track … We’ll have in excess 15,000 people in the stadium tomorrow.

“We believe we’ll completely fill the lower deck,” added Rollins. “I think it’ll be a tremendous atmosphere.”

Orlando City will be without the services of midfielder Kevin Molino, who is out on international duty, and Tan, who is suspended due to the red card he received in the semifinal.

“We have to cope with it,” said Orlando City manager Adrian Heath. “I’m not one of them who keeps moaning about things we can’t do anything about, let’s try and control the controllables.

“We know who’s here,” added Heath. “Let’s work with them.”

Midfielder Jamie Watson, who has been sidelined with a calf injury since July 20, was optimistic about playing in Saturday’s final.

“We’ll have to see,” said Watson about his status for the championship. “I’m a game-time decision tomorrow, so not ruled out.”

Heath was not as positive as Watson was about his potential of playing in the final, stating that Watson was still a scratch for Saturday’s game.

On Friday the USL Pro announced their season awards, as well as the league’s All-Star team. Rob Valentino, Jamie Watson and Dwyer were named to the USL PRO 1st team, while Dwyer was also awarded the co-Golden Boot along with Juan Angulo, both had 15 goals on the season.

NEXT UP: September 7 - Orlando City vs. Charlotte Eagles, Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 7:45 p.m. EST, USL Nation.

Danny MORALES

Nationality:
USA
College:
Valencia College
Club Domestic:
Orlando City
Club Foreign:
Real Madrid
Former athlete turned journalist who remembers the days of the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny, Danny now writes Orlando City news while chronicling the clubs move to become an MLS franchise.
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