KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Dom Dwyer spent the offseason analyzing the good and the bad of his 2019 campaign.
The Lions failed to qualify for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for a fifth consecutive year, while Dwyer failed to score in double digits for a second season out of three since returning to the city where he started his professional career in the USL.
Add it together, and the Orlando forward says he's coming into 2020 with an added chip on his shoulder.
“I think I’ve got a point to prove,” Dwyer told reporters before Monday’s first training session of the season. “I've got to show everyone that I need to be on the field, and I can help this club grow and get to where I want to get to. This year is very much about the team, and about what we do and what we can achieve with all the guys we have here.”
Dwyer scored a team-high 13 goals in 2018 but finished the following year with seven, going blank during the summer months, and the Lions eventually slipped out of the playoff race.
That led to a considerable amount of offseason reflection and work at his craft.
“For me personally, just working hard trying to analyze the last year,” said Dwyer. “See what went right, what went wrong and you know, accept those and make improvements [and] make changes to work towards this year.
“So, the work has been done as a strong foundation and now we're in this beautiful new training facility, there's no excuses for this group now, so we're very excited to get started.”
In addition to playing with new teammates and training at a new facility, Dwyer will work with a third head coach since being traded from Sporting Kansas City during the summer of 2017. With Oscar Pareja taking the helm for 2020, Dwyer said he’s willing to learn from the Colombian coach, whom he remembers from Pareja's time on the sideline for FC Dallas.
“Obviously first impressions are fantastic,” Dwyer said of Pareja. “I know of him well, we’ve played against each other many times already. So, I'm very excited to get started, and I want to I want to learn a lot from him and I'm very willing.”
Dwyer avoided setting any personal goals for improved scoring production, instead focusing on getting to know several of the new players that have joined the squad this season.
“It's team first, that's the way that it always is,” said Dwyer. “That's the way to bring success. We'll get together as a group, and we're going to get to know each other this preseason. We've got a lot of new guys coming in, a lot of talent, so much young talent for this club. So really it's a time for us to get together and group and see what we can achieve.”