USL PRO Outsider: Is Dwyer The Exception Or The Rule?
By Josh Brokaw
It’s not surprising that Dominic Dwyer has become a superstar in the USL PRO. Despite the fact that the season isn’t even at the halfway mark, Dwyer has already broken the record for the most goals scored in a season for the league. While Orlando City might not have needed him to dominate this season, he has brought more to the team than goals. He’s brought star power as well. He literally does a back-flip for the crowd when he scores. That’s entertainment.
USL PRO wouldn’t have the star that is Dom Dwyer if it weren’t for the deal they struck with MLS, though. He is 1 of 4 players on loan from Sporting Kansas City. In light of this, I started to wonder if the MLS loan deal was the USL PRO’s version of the Designated Player rule that the MLS has. Dom Dwyer sure does feel like a DP for Orlando, but is he the exception or the rule?
Since I started this all with Dom Dwyer I’ll break down Orlandos loanees. Goalie Jon Kempin has also been a great asset for the team in purple. He has played a good amount of games and has 13 saves to his name for Orlando. While he doesn’t always start I would still count him as a fantastic addition to the team. Next there’s Yann Songo’o, who has scored once and that’s about it. Definitely not someone I would consider a game changer. Lastly there is Christian Duke who is a midfielder with 10 games played. He has no goals or assists to his name. He does have 10 fouls though, so there’s that. Not exactly great stats.
The rest of the MLS loanees follow a similar path. Some have a hand full of goals and a couple of assists, but nothing too fantastic. For example, the next highest goalscorer after Dwyer is Christhian Hernandez with 3 goals and 3 assists for the Harrisburg City Islanders. 15 goals for Dwyer and 3 goals for Hernandez. That’s a pretty large gap. But it is better than some of these loanees. There is a number of players who have no meaningful stats to their name at all. DC United player Taylor Kemp has had 3 shots on goal in only 5 games played for the Richmond Kickers for example.
The truth is that Dominic Dwyer is definitely the exception not the rule. As a whole these MLS loanees are not coming down to the USL PRO and becoming superstars. They are not holding the league back either though. They are just average to good players who are here to get playing time and experience. There is nothing wrong with that, though. That is exactly what the agreement between these two leagues was formed to do.
Maybe as the MLS grows and their teams gain more depth we will see more Dom Dwyers coming down to the USL PRO but as of right now that’s not happening. Most MLS teams are just not that deep. They don’t have the stars to spare. But I do think it will happen. The only question is whether this partnership will still be around when it does. In the end I’m just happy we have a Dom Dwyer to watch do back-flips for this league.