After breaking his foot three times and being told by doctors he’d never be able to play professionally, England-born Dom Dwyer made the move.
After 11 years, three outstanding college campaigns, one MLS Championship and four caps with the US national team, Dwyer has made the United States of America his home.
A number of years in Norwich City’s youth academy gave Dwyer the foundation he needed, but it was his move to Tyler Junior College in Texas which began three dominant years in the US college system.
“I remember a lot of people saying to me that if I go to America, then my football – or soccer – career is done. ‘You’re never going to be a professional.’ That’s one thing that stuck in my head. I had that from quite a few people,” Dwyer told SI.com.
“I kind of like pressure, in a weird way. I like to have people who doubt you or people who think you can’t do something. All that kind of stuff helps me.”
Despite Dwyer’s career-threatening injuries, his two years at TJC were legendary. The forward lead TJC to a 41-0-1 record in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, collecting the 2010 National Junior College Athletic Association National Player of the Year honour. Team success followed, as Dwyer’s Apache claimed 2009 and 2010 NJCAA Championships, while he slotted a nation-high 37 goals.
“Coach Clements welcomed me with open arms,” Dwyer told TJC.
“Being able to make good on his faith in me and help TJC take home its first two national titles in 2009 and 2010 was the best feeling ever. It really kick-started my comeback. If I can help and attract a few more players to TJC, then I always will.”
In the space of two years, Dwyer went from an injury-riddled talent to a sought-after star looking for his next opportunity. That opportunity came at the University of Southern Florida. Despite only making 21 appearances for USF, Dwyer will go down in history as one of the most prolific goal scorers in program history, finishing with a Big East-best 16 goals and consecutive Offensive Player of the Week awards in 2011.
Three years in the US college system yielded 68 goals from 63 games, and after that stunning season at USF, Dwyer’s attention turned to the MLS. On January 12, 2012, a 21-year-old Dwyer was selected 16thoverall by Sporting Kansas City in the MLS SuperDraft. Dwyer only made three appearances for Sporting in 2012, before splitting time between USL side Orlando City and Sporting in 2013. Dwyer played a key role in Sporting’s MLS Cup triumph, scoring the winning goal against the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Final.
Dwyer netted 50 league goals between 2014 and 2016 for Sporting, but 2017 will live long in his memory, after becoming a US citizen.
“I am extremely happy to have completed the process of becoming a U.S. citizen,” Dwyer told Sporting KC.
“This country has given me a lot over the past eight years, and I look forward to giving back as much as possible. I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey, most importantly my family and my club. This was a very meaningful day for me, and I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life as a U.S. citizen.”
Dwyer did not have to wait long to give back, making his debut for the US National Team in July, scoring goals against Ghana and Panama in his first two appearances.
Shortly after his international debut in the stars and stripes, Dwyer was traded from Sporting KC to Orlando City, and signed a three year contract extension in 2018.
From rock bottom considering whether or not to play anymore, to a professional footballer with a handful of international caps, an incredible college career and MLS Cup. Dom Dwyer’s story is proof that no matter what level of adversity you face, there is always an option to progress and thrive.