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Luiz Muzzi trusts Dom Dwyer, thinks ‘he can turn it around’

Despite netting only seven goals this season, Muzzi said that the team believes Dwyer can “turn it around” next year.

Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer (14) has the support of the Lions' front office. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dom Dwyer has Orlando City’s full support moving into the final year of his contract despite his 2019 slump.

“We trust him,” said Luiz Muzzi, Orlando City executive vice president of soccer operations. “He’s a forward and they’re streaky, right? You saw at the end he started scoring goals. We think that he can turn it around.”

The striker scored seven goals, halving his goal production from the 2018 season. The executive vice president of soccer operations emphasized, however, the club sees Dwyer as part of the team’s future.

Dwyer was loaned to Orlando City early in his MLS career and helped the Lions win a USL championship. His time in Orlando highlighted his goal-scoring potential and he later flourished with Sporting Kansas City. The striker netted a career-high 22 goals in 2014, then scored 12 goals in 2015 and 16 goals in 2016.

Since returning to Orlando City in 2017, however, Dwyer has struggled to score, netting four goals in his first season, then improving to finish with 13 goals in 2018.

This season, Dwyer’s performance was particularly streaky — three of his seven goals came in the first month of the season and two in the final one. The striker posted an 11-game scoring drought in the gut of the season.

Muzzi said Dwyer’s midseason injury and the paternity leave he took for the birth of his daughter also contributed to the striker’s performance this season.

“I think that Dom feels a little disappointed by this season,” Muzzi said. “He feels like he let people down, if you ask him. At the end of the day, he’s a competitor. He wants to win. He came back here because he feels like he needs to deliver something to the city.”

After firing James O’Connor at the end of his first full season with the club, Muzzi emphasized Orlando City’s focus is on building a winning culture.

However, Muzzi said the club can’t exercise the same impunity when it comes to players such as Dwyer who hit a skid.

“At the end of the day, we have to win in this business,” Muzzi said. “It can’t be that black and white, though. If at some point a forward or a midfielder didn’t score a goal in 10 games [and] you let him go — it’s not exactly that black and white”

Regardless of the club’s support of Dwyer, Orlando City will need to see higher production from its designated players next season. Nani delivered above expectations, netting 12 goals and adding 10 assists; however, the third designated player slot under performed — Josué Colmán was loaned out early in the year and Mauricio Pereyra was only able to fill his place for six games at the end of the season.

The three designated player slots combined for a total of 19 goals and 18 assists on the year.

Muzzi confirmed Pereyra will be moved out of the designated player slot ahead of the 2020 season, and emphasized the team would need to make a “wise” decision to fill it. Increasing designated player production will be a focus for the club in both its coaching and scouting process during the offseason.

“I think it’s a good roster and I think it can get better,” Muzzi said. “I think that you look at the pieces we brought in this year … I think that we are in a very good spot to get better.”

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