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How do we feel about Dom Dwyer’s one-game loan to Orlando City? Sporting attacker will play in USL PRO title game.

Sep 4, 2013, 8:01 PM EDT

Sporting Kansas City v Houston Dynamo - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

Dom Dwyer has nothing to prove in the third division, especially after scoring 15 times in 13 games with Orlando City SC earlier this year. He hasn’t been able to replicate the proficiency with Sporting KC, but the 23-year-old attacker does have a goal in 206 minutes of action. With Kei Kamara gone to Middlesbrough, the former South Florida Bull is in line for more time with his Major League Soccer team.

Regardless, Dwyer has been loaned back to Orlando City, albeit under very unique circumstances – a situation that might disappoint the Charlotte Eagles. They’re Orlando’s competition in Saturday’s USL PRO title game, and thanks to today’s agreement between Sporting and Orlando, they’ll also be the opponents for Dwyer’s curious one-game loan.

Here’s the player, from Major League Soccer’s website:

“It’s going to be fun,” Dwyer said on Wednesday, shortly after learning that he would be loaned back to Sporting’s affiliate for Saturday’s USL PRO title game against the Charlotte Eagles. “Obviously, they’ve done really well to get the game at home, and I’m excited about it, I didn’t think I was going to get to go. I thought I’d just be wishing them luck.”

Why would he think he was going to go? There was no reason to think this would happen. After all, since when to players go on one-game loans to bolster squads for a title game? Is this something we’re doing now? Because if so, it sure seems like the Eagles get screwed by the new practice.

Dwyer was with Orlando earlier this year, so from a certain point of view, you could argue he was a part of their success and deserves to further contribute to their possible title. But it’s still incredibly perverse, akin to trading away a player mid-season only to see him make a cameo in the most important game of the season. Things similar to this can happen in minor league baseball, but not quite so abruptly. Particularly given Orlando is not a Sporting KC farm team, this is weird to the point of being wrong.

Here’s Sporting’s Peter Vermes with some background:

“They called me last week after they won [in the semifinals] and said, ‘Look, we’re decimated in the forward position with injuries, and a red card on one of the players, and then one player on international duty,'” Vermes said on Wednesday. “So they’ve got one guy. They asked if there was a chance that either Dom or C.J. [Sapong] could go, and they particularly wanted Dom because he’d been there as long as he had.

“I said it probably wasn’t the greatest time for us, either, but we have options, so I just feel obligated based on our partnership and how well we’ve worked with each other.”

This just makes it even more perverse. Somehow, Orlando has been able to turn their lack of depth and the team’s misfortune into an opportunity to upgrade. Averaging over a goal a game, Dwyer is clearly beyond third-tier quality, yet thanks to players being injured, suspended, and recalled, Orlando have actually improved. They wouldn’t have called and asked about Dwyer’s availability otherwise, but thanks to those circumstances, Dwyer becomes Orlando City’s ringer for Saturday’s title game.

I’m not going to go as far as to say this will taint an Orlando title — I don’t follow USL PRO much, so I shouldn’t judge — but conceptually, this seems all wrong. Allowing teams to reload from outside their organization three days before the title game? When did this become acceptable?

Perhaps for Charlotte, it’s not.


  1. jerichowhiskey - Sep 4, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I do not like it one bit. There should be limits to how a player is loan to the affiliated club. This also goes with recalling a player as well. It was very disappointing players were recalled during the USOC.

  2. winterparkian - Sep 4, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Shouldn’t this article be titled “How does someone who openly admits lack of knowledge of USL PRO and the relationship between it and MLS feel about Dom Dwyer’s…”?

    1) the relationship between Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City is not as informal as lazily painted in this article. One could simply Google “USL PRO MLS partnership” to discover that Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City are in a formal partnership agreement for 2013. SKC was to provide 4 players on loan for the entirety of the USL Pro season to Orlando City but have maintained only 2 loan players for the entire season (Christian Duke and Jon Kempin).

    2) Dom Dwyer played for Orlando City for OVER HALF of the USL Pro season. This is not “bringing in a ringer.” This is a squad coming back together. Yeah, 2 of their most important players (Jamie Watson and Long Tan) are out for the final, but this doesn’t mean that the Orlando City front office just went whining to Vermes. SKC in fact owes OCSC 2 loan players according to their agreement. At this point, Dwyer has played more games and logged more minutes for Orlando, so I fail to see your point on how unfair this is.

    3) all teams in USL Pro had the opportunity to partner with an MLS club in 2013 (with rumors that it will be mandatory in 2014), so Charlotte is getting “screwed” by their own decision not to partner up.

    Someone Who Knows

    • Richard Farley - Sep 4, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      Respectfully, no it shouldn’t. I might not follow USL PRO much, but I’m very familiar with the relationship with MLS: it’s current incarnation; it’s further; how it came about; what both sides hope it will bring to their parties.

      Again, respectfully, none of the points you make refute anything in the post. It’s great information, information that augments the post, but the post was about the timing of the move, not the relationship between USL and MLS or Orlando City’s connection to Kansas City (the significance of which is implied in discussion of Dwyer’s previous loan).

      It just sounds like this post wasn’t written from the point of view you would have preferred, which is fine, but the tone of your comment is a bit much, no? It’s great that you bring up points you feel were underrepresented, but if you’re trying to be persuasive, how do you think another, none-OCSC fan will interpret your contribution? As that of somebody trying to further the conversation? Or a scorned OCSC fan trying trying to take a post beyond it’s original scope.

      This was never meant to cover the MLS-USL PRO relationship. That’s been done elsewhere. The whole point of this post is to talk about the competitive fairness of this late move. You seem to have some good arguments as to why it might be fair. Your way of going about that, however, could probably be more engaging.

      Someone Who Also Knows

      • winterparkian - Sep 4, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        “this is weird to the point of being wrong.”
        “it’s still incredibly perverse”
         “conceptually, this seems all wrong.”

        Despite clearly doubting with the fairness of the move (an “upgrade” you called it, although as pointed out previously SKC actually owes OCSC 2 “upgrades”), you are clearly concerned more with continuing the conversation than with scapegoating an organization/ player. So, cheers to you for that. I was not trying to invite the scorn of non-Orlando supporters so much as provide counter arguments to your insistence that this move is unfair and wrong and perverse.

      • Richard Farley - Sep 4, 2013 at 11:10 PM

        You definitely did that. Your comment was really informative. I targeted the post in a way that the MLS-USL PRO details weren’t really where I wanted to go, so it’s good that people are stepping in and filling that gap.

    • trehellwig - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      You forgot Bryan Burke. Tan only got hot against SKC coincidentally and in the playoffs.

      • winterparkian - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        Well, Burke has been out for awhile now, and dare I say that Orlando City has finally recovered from his loss. The squad has thoroughly been decimated this season, and it is clear that the loan guidelines in the USL-MLS partnership really need some ironing out. Dwyer, Songo’o, Burke, Watson, Molino (on international duty) have all been absent for long stretches of the season, and depending on 4 players from SKC and not being provided those has really done a disservice to the stability of Orlando’s roster.

  3. arrington1279 - Sep 4, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    To be honest, Orlando’s partnership with SKC has been wacky throughout the entirety of the season, with most of that wackiness working against OCSC. First they refused to let the loanees play in the Open Cup (which was the only understandable action), then shortly after recalled Dwyer and let Songo’o’s contract expire, refused for two weeks to send the additional supposedly required two loanees (during which time OCSC played around five critical games), then they send Sapong for a little bit of time, recall him, send him back again, recall him again, and maintain an injured defender on loan for the latter parts of the season. This last bit is just the icing on the cake, feels like a bit of karmic justice for Orlando supporters, but regardless will likely get more press than any of the other shenanigans (aside from the more comprehensible decision to bench the loanees for the Open Cup).

    To be honest, despite Dwyer returning, Charlotte still have an edge in that they’re playing with the same squad that has taken them thus far, meaning they already have that chemistry. Orlando was just beginning to find that chemistry again, only to have Molino leave on international duty, Watson out on injury, and Tan red carded for an incredibly stupid decision on his part. Dwyer may bring his raw ability and some memory of the chemistry he had with the squad, but once again Orlando will find themselves having to develop a new set of tactics to accommodate their situation.

    • Richard Farley - Sep 4, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      A lot the things to which you allude are why I wanted to focus purely on the timing (though really, I wanted to position this post for people/fans who might not know about the current state of MLS-USL PRO’s partnership).

      I know almost nothing about the Eagles, but I also know almost nothing about how Dwyer was scoring his goals in USL PRO. The rate is pretty insane: 15 in 13? I’d love to see/hear about how Charlotte deals with him

      • arrington1279 - Sep 4, 2013 at 10:21 PM

        A lot of that rate emerged after Dwyer and the team started to sync. When he began in the pre-season and first matches of the regular season, he scored a goal maybe every other game. Then suddenly he was getting 2-4 a game before promptly getting recalled to SKC. If Charlotte want to deal with Dwyer, then they’ll probably target their defense on the guys feeding him the ball and by carefully maintaining the offside trap. It wouldn’t be the ideal approach, but it could neutralize a lot of his threat.

        As for the focus on the timing, from my end as an Orlando supporter, it feels a bit unfair to decontextualize this specific instance from the numerous ways that SKC has essentially screwed around with Orlando’s chemistry. As a supporter, aside from the initial loans, this feels like the one and only favor SKC has actually done the team. In general, I would like to see tighter and clearer rules enforced with these partnerships (for example, don’t recall a player unless you have one immediately available to loan in return since the point of this partnership is to develop MLS players who aren’t seeing enough action). However, given the way this partnership has played out through the season, it only seems fair that SKC do Orlando this one favor by offering them the opportunity to play their top scorer in the final.

      • Richard Farley - Sep 4, 2013 at 10:34 PM

        Thanks for the information. It’s good to hear from a supporter re: the effects of the partnership.

      • trehellwig - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:36 AM

        I don’t understand why you are suggesting this recent loan is not fair. I believe OC fans feel Dom should have been left on loan for the entirety of the season, so his return after 1/2 season absence seems right, regardless of length. Also, OC has played most of that half of the season and playoffs with less than the agreed upon loan-ees. So considering they had 6 of their original starters out with injury, suspension, international duty, back with or dropped from SKC (2 other non-startes with injury or international duty) as of 2 days ago and they were promised 2 more players on loan from SKC, I see this situation as very fair. Although, it is unfortunate for Charlotte, Dom was an original loan-ee and there would be no discussion had he never been called back so I think there shouldn’t be a lot of complaining.

      • Richard Farley - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:39 AM

        That’s kind of what the post is about, though. The analogy I use is a player traded away mid-season allowed to come back for the last game. While Dwyer was loaned to OCSC before, he is not an OCSC player, despite the fact he was with the team earlier this year. That that status was allowed to change 72 hours before the most important game of the season would strike most as unfair.

        As you’ve alluded to before, there are arguments that offset that. But the basic premise – teams shouldn’t be allowed to add players this close to a title game – is the crux of the argument.

      • randomhookup - Sep 5, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        I might use more of a baseball analogy of a team sending someone back to the minors for the championship game. A little cheeky, but within the rules.

  4. fsufiji - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:32 AM 6 min of Dom-ination in purple. SKC is suppose to loan at least 4 players (as stated in other comments) they owe us one. This is the one. He won the fan favorite award and the golden boot for the team at the awards banquet. it will bring in more fans and it is the right thing to let the guy who got us there to play in the big game. Also, the Eagles did a great job of beating Dykstra (another MLS loaner) last week so they an have another go at Dwyer. They should be more worried about playing in front of 15,000 supporters in the CB.

  5. trehellwig - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    Your comment “They wouldn’t have called and asked about Dwyer’s availability otherwise” is misleading. The FO has asked for Dom to be sent back on loan since the day he left but you are only hearing these quotes because of the recent agreement and following press-releases and interviews.

    Is it fair that the last time Orlando played Richmond for the regular season title, OC had 2 SKC players available to play and Richmond had 4? Yes!

    Is it fair that Charlotte, 5th seed out of 8 in the playoff and with no MLS affiliation, had to play Richmond, 1st seed with 4 players on loan? Yes and they won!

    Is it fair that Dom was sent back on loan for the Championship? Yes!

    There is nothing shady about this deal, it is just unexpected and life will go on! May the best team win!

    • Richard Farley - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:59 AM

      I don’t think the section you quote is misleading. That’s based on Peter Vermes’s characterization of how this new loan went down. Perhaps Vermes isn’t being forthright, but I don’t think that quote is misleading, based on the original reporting.

      • winterparkian - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        Perhaps that quote is more unsubstantiated than deliberately misleading. It is true that Rawlings, Heath and co. have requested the continued services of Dwyer at several points after his recall, being unfortunately denied with the offerings of Sapong and Ellis at a day-at-a-time rate. Dwyer is a Sporting player, but Orlando’s fans LOVE him and his return has been hopefully anticipated for months.

  6. hildezero - Sep 5, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    I guess this loan is legal, but I think it shouldn’t of happened. Loaning out a player just for one game is ridiculous. It won’t be fair for Charlotte. Dwyer is gonna be the future of Sporting and possibly MLS. So Sporting should now use him as a regular, because of the success he’s had in USL and especially with Kei gone. When was the last time an MLS loanee had such success in NASL or USL in the past? This is a rare situation.

  7. eroc3927 - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:03 AM

    I couldn’t care less. Its USL PRO and I will be at the game. All I want to see is a great game. People want to be entertained and Dom will provide that. All this talk about the loan deal system is not right is a bunch a crap. People want to be entertain and see good soccer. Orlando fans love it.

  8. creek0512 - Sep 5, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Since you made the title of this article a question, I’m obligated to reject your mock outrage and say no.

  9. notaretard - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    this is a load of bullshit. i’d be pissed

  10. atxnole - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    It’s unfortunate for Charlotte but there’s nothing that would preclude it from happening within the context of the MLS-USL Pro agreement so I don’t see anything wrong with it. They probably need to better define the loan practices for next season (windows, etc.).

  11. hildezero - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Good point.

  12. willwell1168 - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Interesting discussion on all sides! It is clear that Orlando is perfectly within the rules, as they stand, in playing Dwyer in the final, however unconventional this may strike us. (Indeed, they would be foolish not to do so when given the opportunity by SKC.) The rules of the working agreement between an MLS club & it’s USL partner could probably use some tweaking and clarification, however. I lean toward the view that Orlando has been more disadvantaged by the present arrangement, with the championship game return of Dwyer being a notable salve to that wound. Other than this, SKC certainly does seem to have played “fast & loose” with the loan arrangement. By no means have they had at all times their required 4 players on loan to Orlando at all times. Most baffling of all was last month when SKC had the week off while Orlando had a trophy at stake in their game at Richmond that was decisive in determining the regular season champion. Not only did SKC not return Dwyer for that important match, but CJ Sapong was kept in KC as well. I’m sorry, but that was just stingy. The bottom line is that by entering into the MLS arrangement, Orlando was agreeing to inevitably weaken their team chemistry by allowing SKC to bring players in and out from their team. In exchange for this, they were to have the services of 4 MLS caliber players at all times. By SKC not fulfilling their end of the bargain in full, it’s very questionable whether this deal was beneficial for Orlando in the end. (A recent article in the Orlando Sentinel pointed this out as well.) They’ve had 2 excellent, trophy-winning seasons the past 2 years without SKC’s involvement. But kudos to SKC to relenting at the 11th hour & allowing Dwyer to play in the most important match of the USL PRO season. That, at least, is a solid act of good faith upon which the working relationship between the clubs may progress in the future.

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