ORLANDO, Fla.- The perseverance of general manager Niki Budalic and the commitment of majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva were the two key elements in Orlando City SC’s blockbuster trade for striker Dom Dwyer, according to club CEO Alex Leitao.
With the city jumping with excitement and the fan base slightly beyond ecstatic, Leitao went on Facebook Live on Tuesday afternoon to confirm the deal and field some instant queries from supporters.
“I just want to say two things about the process of hiring Dom,” Leitao insisted. “One, a big, big thanks and congrats to Niki. He was the man behind this deal and it’s fantastic for us. The second thing is very important, as it’s the commitment from our owner Flavio to this team.
“We came here not to compete, we came here to win. We are going to find this, we are going to go after this, and Dom’s going to help us.”
Leitao also revealed the trade had been in the works for some time, and that it had been the most prolonged and exhausting process in his 16-year soccer career as an agent and CEO.
“It was a very, very exhaustive process,” he said. “We have been in conversation for almost a month, going back and forth. I have been involved in many deals in my life, I have been doing deals as well here in MLS and I was part of the moment we acquired the franchise.
“But I never, ever faced anything as exhausting as this one. The back-and-forth, the going, not-going. But this is the best. This is the most important thing for us. It is massive for this club. If there was one player I could pick to bring to this organization, it would be Dom.”
The Orlando front office supremo also insisted the trade reflected the growing status of MLS as a league.
“This deal is not only big for the club, it is big for the league,” Leitao added. “It shows the growth of the league. When clubs start doing deals between each other [of this magnitude], it shows the stage where the league is right now.”
Leitao was quick to point out that head coach Jason Kreis will have the final say on how Dwyer is incorporated into the City lineup – which is likely to be for Saturday’s return game with Atlanta United at Bobby Dodd Stadium (4:30 pm ET; FOX, FOX Deportes in US | MLS LIVE in Canada– but he intimated the newly-minted US national team striker is likely to play alongside existing duo Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas.
“It’s a good problem for Jason to have, to find a way to play all three players [at once],” he said. “But it’s very important information that we didn’t trade any of our players. We keep our roster the way it is and Dom just comes to be another one to help the team.”