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After The Gold Cup, Where Does Dom Dwyer Stand With The USMNT?

With one powerful blast of his left foot, Dom Dwyer’s chances to make an even bigger statement with the U.S. men’s national team took a blow, the Nicaraguan keeper guessing correctly to keep the American’s penalty kick out. 

The English-born U.S. international scored in his first two appearances for USMNT, but Dwyer couldn’t convert from the spot in his third appearance on Saturday. The next day he was dropped from the team for the remainder of the Gold Cup. Now the 26-year-old striker will be wondering what could have been.

Had Dwyer scored the penalty kick, would he still be on the roster for the remaining Gold Cup matches? Could he have done anything more to ensure he plays a role in World Cup Qualifying when September rolls around? Will he ever step out of the shadow of his wife?

Dwyer, along with Kelyn Rowe and Cristian Roldan, was one of six players cut from the U.S. Gold Cup roster by coach Bruce Arena, to make way for the likes of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, to name a few. Dwyer could view this in two ways.

First, that he did not play well enough. 

Though he scored in a friendly against Ghana and again in a 1-1 draw with Panama to open the Gold Cup, Dwyer — who didn’t play against Martinique — was subbed off against Nicaragua with the U.S. still needing another goal. 

No striker ever wants to be substituted, but it’s even worse when your team is desperately seeking a goal. Arena took off Dwyer for fellow striker Juan Aguedelo with more than 15 minutes to play. 

The penalty miss may have played a role in the decision, as could the fact the team as a whole struggled against fairly low-level competition. 


Second, that Arena saw enough and already knows what he has in Dwyer.

Dwyer isn’t some young kid new to the sport; he’s been in a known commodity in MLS for some time now. Perhaps after seeing what Dwyer could do with goals in his first two matches, Arena saw enough and decided to send him home. With Dempsey and Altidore coming into the fray, Dwyer’s minutes are likely to be minimal, so sending Dwyer back to his MLS club Sporting KC allows him to keep playing at the club level.

If you take comments Arena made to reporters at face value, he’s in the second camp.

"All of (the decisions) are difficult because all of the players did well," Arena said. "I thought Dom, Cristian and Kelyn did very well, and I told them that. They're players that we're obviously going to continue to keep an eye on, and continue to obviously have them in the program." 

“I think they came through with passing grades, all of them.”

However, Roldan didn’t exactly set the world on fire, failing to impress in the one match in which he competed. Rowe was better, scoring his first career U.S. goal against Nicaragua, but nonetheless received the hook.

What Dwyer’s exclusion from the group stage means is that Arena can’t experiment with Dwyer playing up front with Altidore and/or Dempsey. We won’t find out how Dwyer’s clever running pairs with Bradley’s vision to pick out passes. The foundation created in his first three appearances halts until Arena decides to bring him back into the fold. 


Dwyer can probably rest easy, knowing he’s likely one of the top few American strikers around today (Jordan Morris and Aguedelo didn’t exactly light it up). While Altidore and Dempsey are still likely first choice up top for now, Dwyer is a bit of the mix of the two, showcasing the tenacity of Dempsey with the strength of Altidore. 

If he can stay healthy, he has a good shot at being on the World Cup qualifying roster when Costa Rica comes stateside on Sept. 1. He already has one big-time fan.

But missing out on big matches with several first-team players isn’t the most promising way to continue his international career. 

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