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Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer to miss season opener

The forward had an injury-riddled 2019 campaign and will miss the start of the 2020 season

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Orlando City will be without forward Dom Dwyer for its season opener against Real Salt Lake on Saturday because of a lower body injury. 

Lions coach Óscar Pareja said the timetable for Dwyer’s return will be a couple of weeks. Dwyer is considered “week-to-week” after sustaining the injury during preseason. He has not has been with the team during training sessions the past two weeks. 

“We’re not going to come with Dom for this Saturday,” Pareja said on Wednesday. 

Dwyer’s absence combined with designated player and captain Nani’s suspension for the first two games of the season means Orlando City will have a makeshift forward line. It could consist of a combination of Tesho Akindele and Benji Michel. Rookie forward Daryl Dike could also be an option for Pareja. The coach said he has an idea of what the starting lineup will look like against RSL, however, he said Wednesday competition for starting spots are still open. 

“It’s normal for us to wait until the last day,” Pareja said. 

For Dwyer, it’s another setback. 

Since joining Orlando back in 2017, Dwyer has dealt with a myriad of injuries. He has had nose surgery, which caused him to miss one game during the 2017 season. The striker has dealt with injuries in each of the past three preseasons with the Lions. He had a quadriceps injury during the beginning of the 2019 preseason, but he came on as a substitute during Orlando City’s season opener against NYCFC, which ended in a 2-2 draw. 

Dwyer is coming off a disappointing and injury-riddled 2019 campaign. He played in 27 games, earned 16 starts, scored seven goals and provided four assists. 

Kaká visits training

A soccer icon stopped by Orlando City training on Tuesday.

Former Lions midfielder and soccer legend Kaká was at the Orlando City training ground and shook hands with each player. He spokke with several Lions, including Nani. Pareja also took a few minutes to speak with Kaká in Spanish. It was the first time since Pareja was hired in December he has met with Kaká.

“It’s great to have his personality here,” Pareja said. “It’s great to have such a great person that represents much for this club, and for the soccer world, it’s great.”

Kaká was the Lions’ first designated player signing and helped the club make the jump to MLS in 2015. The former Ballon d’Or winner played three seasons with Orlando City, making 75 appearances, scoring 24 goals and providing 22 assists. The Brazilian also scored the first MLS goal in club history with a free kick in a 1-1 draw against NYCFC back in 2015. 

Kaká was a role model for several Orlando City players, including Brazilian midfielder Júnior Urso.

“It was the first time that I met him,” Urso said through a translator. “It is incredible to be with someone like that. He’s even a better person. He’s definitely an inspiration and it was great to be with someone like him.”

Urso said he spoke with Kaká, who gave him some advice about adjusting to Orlando off the pitch. Urso joined Orlando City on Jan. 13 after spending the last five seasons with Brazilian side Corinthians. 

“He told me that I would enjoy Orlando, and I said that I’m already liking it,” Urso said. “It’s a great city, great environment. He also said that my family is going to enjoy it. He’s a very special person, and he definitely gave me some advice about Orlando.”

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