KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Here's Dom Dwyer's idea of a great Friday night in front of 20,000 of his closest friends:
“Two-nil. Two goals. Three points. Defoe's jersey. That'd be nice.”
Sporting Kansas City's young English center forward is, as usual, having a bit of fun – sort of. He and his club need three points to halt a two-match slide, that's true enough. But Dwyer also has a great deal of respect for countryman Jermain Defoe and never expected to be facing him this time around with World Cup camps in full swing, but they will share the same field when Toronto FC visit Sporting Park on Friday (8:30 pm ET, Free MLS Stream of the Week).
“I'm a huge, huge Defoe fan,” Dwyer told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “I remember watching him, growing up, and he was one player that I'd be kicking the ball around in the garden, shouting his name as I'm shooting the ball. So it's pretty exciting to play against him. In my opinion, he should be at the World Cup right now with England, without a doubt. I haven't met him yet, but hopefully I'll get to meet with him, have a little chat, and I look forward to playing against him.”
Dwyer has made a reputation in MLS for his energetic play up top – something he has long admired about Defoe, who starred for years at Tottenham Hotspur before making the jump across the Atlantic.
“I love the energy he brings when he comes off the bench, or even when he starts games,” Dwyer said. “I really can't speak highly enough of him as a player. He's top-class, and for me he's still world-class. To score as many goals as he has in the [English] Premier League, it's not by accident.”
Sporting have dropped two matches in a row, both by 2-1 margins, but Dwyer has continued his run of scoring form with goals in both, giving him four goals in the last three games. If he nets against TFC on Friday, he will join Preki and Eddie Johnson on the club's short list of players who have scored in four straight games.
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“Honestly, all that matters to us now is points,” he said. “I'm on a run and I'm scoring goals and people are talking about it. But all that matters to me is winning. I want to win. I want to be successful as a player and as a team. If you want to be successful as a player, you have to be on a winning team. I want to get us back to the top.”
And pick up a souvenir along the way?
“Hopefully after we beat them, I can steal his shirt,” Dwyer said with a grin. “We'll see.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.