KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Dom Dwyer might have scripted his season and his MLS debut differently, but the young forward is glad for his first minutes with Sporting Kansas City and looking to earn more time down the stretch for the Eastern Conference leaders.
Dwyer, Sporting's first-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, had hoped to figure quickly into manager Peter Vermes' plans. Instead, he didn't break into league play until last Saturday, when he went four minutes in Sporting's 2-1 home victory over Toronto FC.
"To say it's been tough would be an understatement," he said afterward. "I've been frustrated. You just have to work hard, keep yourself ready mentally and keep yourself prepared physically. It's been tough. I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied yet. I just want to keep working and get as many minutes as I can."
"The reason why he was in was because the work he's been putting in has been showing up in training," Vermes told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday's training session. "That's the reason he gets his shot. But the discouragement was something he had to deal with.
"If you're not getting picked, then you have to self-evaluate and realize why," he added. "It could be the other guys right now are in a better position than you are to be in that group. The other could be something that you're doing or not doing."
The expectations of and on first-round draft picks present their own sets of challenges, Vermes said, with both players and fans expecting meaningful minutes sooner rather than later.
"It's not easy on these guys," he said. "They're not used to that, every day – not being the guy who gets called, and called, and called, and called. It just takes time, you know, and this is just the beginning of his career. He has the ability to be a good player. It's about what you do every day and whether you do it consistently."
That's the goal, Dwyer said.
"I'm going to be ready," he said. "I'm going to keep working to get myself in the 18 again, and see what happens from there."
Dwyer, who was on the pitch when Oriol Rosell scored the 87th-minute game-winner against the Reds, did have a moment when he thought he might get to play the hero.
"I thought the goalie was going to save Uri's shot and I was going to tap it in," he said with a laugh. "But it went in and we won, so I didn't care."
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.