KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Dom Dwyer showed up late Tuesday afternoon at Sporting Kansas City's practice facility, wearing the purple training kit of Orlando City SC.
It was the first time he'd returned there since loading his bags for a ride to the airport, en route to a loan stint that has already seen the young English forward demolish the USL PRO goalscoring record.
And after the Lions return home following Wednesday night's US Open Cup match (8:30 pm ET, live stream on YouTube) – in which he and Sporting's other loanees are limited to spectators' roles – he doesn't know when he will be back again.
But he's okay with that now.
“It's great to be getting the playing experience and playing time, and it's a lot of fun,” Dwyer told MLSsoccer.com. “The team's winning, and I'm scoring goals, so it's really good.”
When he first got the news that he was being loaned out, though, things were different. Dwyer viewed it as another setback in his young career after being taken in the first round of the 2012 SuperDraft, having made just one league appearance for Sporting as a rookie in 2012.
He trialed with Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren over the winter break and hoped to get a loan deal there, but Sporting nixed the idea. Dwyer took the news in stride, vowing to contribute more in his sophomore season – and then came the loan announcement.
Publicly, he called the deal “brilliant” and said he was looking forward to contending for starts with the Lions. Privately, he carried a chip on his shoulder and a desire to prove that he should have been kept in Kansas City.
“I wasn't pleased to start with,” he said, “but no player is going to be happy to be sent on loan to begin with. But then I started to realize that it was a fantastic opportunity and a chance to get playing. I'm very pleased that it happened.”
He makes no apologies for that chip, however, saying it fueled his competitive drive.
“I think you need that, you know? Some people kind of shy away, like, 'Ah, they said I'm not good enough, so I'm just not going to bother now,'” he said. “Or guys will go down there thinking they're too good for that level. You need to realize that every level's competitive and there's always a guy who's going to try to come and take your place.”
And so Dwyer said all the right things, stayed focused on his situation and worked out his frustration on the backs of opponents' nets. He has 15 goals through 13 matches in USL PRO play – and says he still has plenty to prove in that league.
“I'm not satisfied yet,” he said. “I'm going to keep going in every game, and hopefully it's a lot more than 15.”
And if the call back to Sporting is some time in coming yet, despite that output, Dwyer is fine with that, too.
“I'm just going to go with it and see how it goes,” he said. “I've got training, and playing games, and working hard, and we'll just see how it goes.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.