KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This would seem a great time to be a productive MLS player about to become an American citizen – especially one who already has made no secret of his openness to a call into the US national team.
US coach Bruce Arena's initial January camp roster was an all-MLS affair, after all, with two call-ups – Vancouver forward Kekuta Manneh and Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei – still not USMNT-eligible yet.
But for Dom Dwyer, who is poised to take the oath of allegiance next month, the main goal now is showing what he can do for his club now that he's healthy for the first time in more than a year.
“I don't want to go into that too much,” Sporting Kansas City's English-born forward told reporters earlier this week, before the team headed for their training camp in Tucson, Ariz., “Honestly, I'm focusing on playing football. I'm trying to get fit now and perform for my club. If the other things come, that's a huge honor and that would be something fantastic.
“I've heard nothing but good things from our guys who are on the national team. Some of the guys are back on it now, like Benny [Feilhaber]. I'm very excited, very happy for them. If I get a chance to join them, that would be fantastic.”
After Sporting's controversial 1-0 loss to the eventual-champion Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Knockout Round last fall, Dwyer underwent offseason arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle – the plant foot for the left-footed forward, who led Sporting with 16 league goals last season despite the pain.
“It was a big issue,” he said on Sunday. “Probably for a year and a half, I've been battling with it. The previous offseason, there wasn't quite time to get it done. This offseason, it just became time. Toward the end of the season, I was really struggling.
“Unfortunately, we crashed out of the playoffs when we did, and then it was time to get surgery and think about next year. I've had a lot of time to focus and rebuild, and now I'm excited to show what I've got.”
Dwyer never made an issue of the sore ankle last season, even when it was bothering him most. Nor did he take any significant time off, appearing in all but one of his team's regular-season matches and starting Sporting's lone playoff game.
“I wouldn't say there's a code,” he said. “It's more of like just something about being a man. You want to play. You want to be on the field, and there's certain things you have to do to sacrifice for that. It's going to hurt sometimes. That's just how it is. But I'm happy to be healthy, to have my body right. Hopefully I can show you guys a healthy season.”
“It's definitely exciting,” Dwyer said. “I've heard good things. We haven't trained together yet. I'm looking forward to doing that and building a bond with these guys. They look good.
“I think we've added to our team. I think it's going to improve. We just have to see how.”