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Newly-minted citizen Dom Dwyer shines in U.S. national team debut

Goal.com logo Goal.com 01-07-2017

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Dom Dwyer really has led a charmed life since arriving in the United States from England eight years ago, and Saturday marked the latest special moment for him.

The Sporting Kansas City striker made his U.S. national team debut on Saturday, and made the most of it, playing well as the U.S. team's lone striker and scoring a goal in his debut to help the Americans beat Ghana, 2-1, in a pre-Gold Cup friendly.

Match report: USA 2-1 Ghana

Dwyer showed all the characteristics that have helped him thrive with Sporting KC. His well-timed runs, strength and determination kept him in dangerous positions in the first half against Ghana, and after seeing a few looks miss the mark, Dwyer pounced in the 19th minute, volleying home a deflected Jorge Villafana shot to become the 48th player to score in his U.S. debut.

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Bruce Arena has some good forward options in the U.S. player pool, currently led by Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood and Clint Dempsey, but Dwyer jumps right into a wide-open second tier that includes the likes of Jordan Morris, Juan Agudelo and Chris Wondolowski. Dwyer brings a bulldog quality, a relentlessness similar to what Wood provides, and he has shown a true nose for goal.

It was that nose for goal that brought him over from England to the United States in search of a chance to revive his career after seeing it stall in the youth ranks back home. He went the college rout, which an increasing number of European prospects are taking, but Dwyer was an early trailblazer.

Since making the jump across the pond, Dwyer has racked up goals and trophies. He started with a pair of junior college national championships, then spent a year at South Florida, where he impressed enough to be a first-round pick by Sporting Kansas City. After a tough rookie year where he saw little playing time, Dwyer's second year brought more goals and silverware. He helped lead Orlando City to a USL PRO title (before the Lions made the jump to MLS) and followed that up by breaking into the Sporting KC starting lineup and helping SKC win the 2013 MLS Cup.

Dwyer became a U.S. citizen in March, and given the success and happiness he has enjoyed in America, it wasn't much of a surprise to see him push for a chance to play on the U.S. national team. His track record as a steady goal-scorer made him an easy selection for Arena, who saw plenty of him during his time as Galaxy head coach.

Along with amassing more than 100 goals between college, USL PRO and MLS and winning several trophies, Dwyer also found love in the United States, marrying U.S. national team striker Sydney Leroux in 2015, making them the unofficial power couple of American soccer.

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In fact, Dwyer's goal on Saturday put him and his wife in an exclusive club as the first married couple to both score U.S. national team goals while they were married, though Dwyer has a few more to go to catch his wife, who has scored 35 times for the U.S. women's national team.

Given what we saw on Saturday, Dwyer should get his chance at the upcoming Gold Cup. He appears to have edged out JAgudelo for the starting striker role heading into the group stages, which kick off against Panama on July 8, and his unique combination of strength, quickness and well-timed runs make him ideally suited to thrive against the level of competition he and the U.S. will face in the Gold Cup group stages.

If Dwyer can continue to impress like he did on Saturday, he stands a good chance of pushing for a national team role on the full squad when World Cup qualifying resumes in September. With his first cap, and first goal under his belt, Dwyer can move on to bigger goals, and more memories to add to an already massive list of good ones for him on this side of the pond.

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