Orlando Got Their Man and That’s All That Matters for Now

I want to start off by being very clear. I am no fan of Dom Dwyer. I find him to be an irksome opponent. Between the histrionics, the diving, needling opposition players and fans at every opportunity, I simply have no love for this man whatsoever (appearances and goals for the national team notwithstanding). However, that’s the thing with a player like Dwyer. If he’s not on your team, you’re going to hate them. He plays the heel so well. Sporting fans loved him for that, and Orlando City fans are going to love him for that as well. It might not be the noblest pursuit, but it certainly is effective in a league like MLS.

Orlando gave up a heap of resources to bring Dom over who had not long ago been whispering about going off to Europe as the next step in his career. A new deal would seem to be in the works, so perhaps this move has somewhat quelled that ambition (at least for the time being) and certainly being given a lot of looks with the USMNT might have convinced him that he didn’t need to go to Europe to get time with the international team.

So where does this leave Orlando? Well, right now, they’re faced with a very real possibility that Cyle Larin, their biggest asset, may be off to Europe sooner rather than later. They’ve struggled to get any kind of consistent goal production out of the talented but maddening Carlos Rivas, and while Giles Barnes has done well enough for the Lions so far, he also cannot be expected to reliably produce goals at a rate which will ensure that Orlando City compete for trophies.

The mountain of General and Targeted Allocation Money that now sits in SKC’s Allocation vault currently stands at 900k. The rest will come with “easily achievable” incentives that could push the deal upwards of $1.6 million. Feasibly Orlando could wind up spending less than the $1.6 million figure if their new striker fails to meet performance incentives, but that discount would be a pyrrhic victory at best, and Peter Vermes said he “100% expects” all of the incentives to be met. In fact, he even said that “some may be fulfilled this weekend.”

A deal like this is going to be really hard to judge now or even a year in the future. While at first glance it looks like SKC bought themselves a ton of roster flexibility whereas Orlando may have bet the farm on a striker that’s three years past his outstanding 2014 season where he netted 23 goals. Since then he’s scored 12 in 2015, 16 in 2016, and 5 so far this season. The returns are by no means paltry, but Orlando were likely buying the Dom Dwyer they saw in his brief loan spell with them and in his 2014 campaign, and that’s the price that SKC were asking for.  

Here’s what works about this deal from Orlando’s standpoint. While the amount of GAM and TAM seems eye-popping, it’s worth remembering that they managed to gain $650k of it by selling Kevin Molino to Minnesota. That funds almost the entire down payment. With that they managed to pick up an experienced striker, a fan favorite even, that’s shown an ability to score goals in this league. He recently shone in his first few matches with the USMNT, and looks like he’ll be in the mix to get an opportunity to represent the USA (and Orlando City indirectly) at the next World Cup.

With there being whispers about Kaka retiring or taking next season off at the end of this campaign, and with Larin likely off to Europe, Orlando City’s first generation of stars probably won’t be here much longer. By acquiring Dom Dwyer, they’ve got the first piece in rebuilding their attack for the next few years.

We won’t know how successful this trade was for a while, but we do know that people are going to be watching and that, if nothing else, has to be worth something.