Dom Dwyer's hot start for USA could lead to big payday with Sporting KC
Dom Dwyer was only six years old when the classic sports movie "Jerry Maguire" came out, but the Sporting Kansas City and U.S. national team forward would get a kick out of watching it now because he may see a bit of himself in Rod Tidwell.
Unlike Tidwell's touchdown catches, Dwyer scores goals. But much like Tidwell, Dwyer has turned down a contract offer, choosing instead to let his play do the negotiating. Right now, much like Tidwell was famous for, Dwyer's game is screaming "Show me the money!"
The U.S. national team's newly minted goal-scorer has taken full advantage of his call-up for the Gold Cup, scoring goals in each of his first two matches for the U.S. The hot start has Dwyer's national team stock soaring, and also likely has his asking price rising as he and Sporting KC are in the midst of contract negotiations.
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Dwyer, 26, has one option year remaining on his contract after the 2017 season and Sporting KC has already made Dwyer an offer that would pay in the range of $1.25 million a season, sources confirmed to Goal. Dwyer turned down the initial offer earlier in the season, with Sporting KC director of player personnel Brian Bliss confirming to Goal that the club made Dwyer the offer shortly after preseason.
"We want Dom back, that's why we started this conversation earlier rather than later," Bliss told Goal. "He's an important piece and we hope to get something done with him."
Dwyer's decision to turn down the club's initial offer may have seemed risky at the time considering he's in the midst of a relatively quiet MLS season — he has five goals and one assist — but it's a decision that could pay off handsomely if he can keep up his stellar national team form while regaining the scoring touch he showed while notching 50 goals from 2014 to 2016.
Neither Dwyer nor his agent — Richard Motzkin of Wasserman Media Group — would discuss the current negotiations when contacted by Goal.
According to the MLS Players Union, Dwyer's current contract pays him $668,750 in guaranteed compensation for the 2017 season. Sources tell Goal that his salary is set to increase to $900,000 in 2018, though that figure could reach $1 million if certain incentives are reached.
Sporting Kansas City is one of the better teams in MLS at holding onto its best players, but Dwyer has still yet to sign on long term. Given his national team success, Sporting KC could find itself in the unenviable position of having its leading goal-scorer and most marketable player heading into the final year of his contract in a year when he could also be taking part in a World Cup.
Dwyer has the added bargaining position of being an England native, which gives him significantly more options as a free agent. The 26-year-old has already been the subject of transfer interest in the past, with Greek side Olympiakos making a $3 million bid for him a year ago. Sporting KC and Olympiakos agreed on the $3 million fee, but sources tell Goal the transfer feel through when Dwyer failed to reach an agreement on a contract with Olympiakos.
Part of the appeal of staying in MLS back then was Dwyer's pursuit of American citizenship, which he secured earlier this year. With his U.S. citizenship now in hand, Dwyer could make a move to Europe and still return to the U.S. to settle down later in his career or after his playing days are over.
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Dwyer has established ties to Kansas City, where he began his professional career and has played the past six seasons, so leaving wouldn't necessarily be easy. His wife, U.S. women's national team forward Sydney Leroux, plays for NWSL side FC Kansas City and the two have an infant son. Dwyer and his family have cultivated a dream life in Kansas City, but the allure of big bucks in Europe could be enough to persuade him to make a move.
That works both ways as well, because if Dwyer's goal-scoring exploits for the U.S. generate a sizable transfer offer for him in the near future, Sporting KC would be open to selling him.
"If somebody comes with a good offer that makes sense for the club then we're certainly going to let Dom go," Bliss said. "Because if Dom has an opportunity to make $2 million or $2.5 million playing at a team like Everton for example, we've got to let him know that because that's for his family and himself.
"We're not averse to transferring him but it's got to make sense for everybody."
Of course, Dwyer's decision to turn down Sporting KC's sizable initial offer doesn't come without risk. Injuries are always a possibility, and the security of a seven-figure deal can't be ignored. That said, Dwyer is extremely confident in his ability, and continued success with the U.S. national team will only generate more interest from abroad, which will force Sporting KC to make an improved offer or risk losing one of the best scorers in MLS.
As things stand, if Dwyer keeps scoring goals for the U.S. and can carry that scoring run over when he returns to MLS play later this month, Sporting KC will have no choice but to show him the money.