Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer can imagine what would happen back home in England if one of the Premier League’s top young scorers (say, Harry Kane) got married to a popular homegrown Olympic gold medalist (say, Jessica Ennis, who’s already hitched, but work with us here).
There would be paparazzi hiding in the bushes outside their house every day.
So far, at least, Dwyer, 24, hasn’t seen any tabloid shooters outside the house he just bought in Kansas City with his new wife, Sydney Leroux, 24, the U.S. women’s national team forward. But give them some time. U.S. soccer’s photogenic new It Couple, a duo that gives new meaning to the phrase “striker partnership,” announced their marriage last week in People and have entertaining his and hers Instagram accounts.
And both are poised for big individual years in 2015, Leroux at the Women’s World Cup and Dwyer in MLS. Only Abby Wambach has scored more goals for the U.S. than Leroux over the past two years, and Dwyer was the No. 2 scorer in MLS during the 2014 regular season with 22 goals. Naturally, soccer is what brought them together.
“We met about two years ago in Kansas City,” says Dwyer, when Leroux’s NWSL team was in town for a game. “We got along, and we’d speak every now and then. But about six or seven months ago we started to talk more and get along, and we both realized our sense of humor was similar. We started hanging out more, and we just went from there and didn’t look back.”
The past few months have been a whirlwind. They announced their relationship publicly in December (on her Instagram account). Leroux spent Christmas with Dwyer and his family in England, and then they announced their January marriage on Valentine's Day, 2/14 (She happens to wear No. 2; he wears No. 14). He even convinced her to join him as a fan of Liverpool.
This week the congratulations and amiable wisecracks have been pouring in: Chicago forward Mike Magee, who is friends with both, tweeted at “Dom Leroux.” But the fact is that Dwyer’s personality is both easygoing enough to be O.K. as “Mr. Sydney Leroux” to some fans and big enough that he stands out plenty on his own.
This is a guy, after all, who sparked a global soccer trend by taking a selfie right after scoring a goal for Kansas City last summer.
And this is a guy who instead of being satisfied with his 22 goals says: “I could have had 30 last year. I missed some easy chances.”
Ask Dwyer to describe his game, and without skipping a beat he says: “Fast, fun and effective.”
Dwyer took an unusual route from England to MLS. He spent seven years developing in Norwich City’s system, but a rash of injuries appeared to dash his pro prospects. A scout helped connect him to a scholarship at Tyler (Tex.) J.C., where he won two national championships before transferring to South Florida for one year. Kansas City took Dwyer with the 16th pick in the 2012 MLS draft.
Goals/90 Mins (min. 10 goals)
Shots on Goal
“My plan was always to go back to England straight after college,” Dwyer says. “I never really thought about it. Then the opportunity came up and I realized it was a good opportunity … It’s difficult to say if guys shouldn’t come across. The hardest bit is getting drafted to a team and then sort of staying on the team.”
Dwyer’s big break came in 2013, when he went on loan to Orlando City, then of the third-division USL Pro, where he set a league scoring record (15 goals) and helped the team win a league championship (with four goals and an assist in the title game).
He played a part in Kansas City’s push to the 2013 MLS Cup crown and last year earned the starting striker’s role.
A new contract (and a significant upgrade on last year’s $92,500 salary) came in the off-season, which helped him and Leroux buy that new house together.
Meanwhile, Dwyer has started the process to become a U.S. citizen and potentially play for the U.S. national team.
“We’re working on it,” he says, “so hopefully anytime within the next two years I could hopefully be eligible to play, and then you have to work hard and keep playing well and hopefully get a call from somewhere. Whether it’s England or the U.S., hopefully it’s the right place.”
Last season was disappointing overall for Kansas City, which looked like a team ready to repeat its title at midseason but then had the wheels fall off after that.
“We were top of the league, on our way, and everything sort of fell apart,” Dwyer says. “We didn’t really know where it came from. I think it was just tiredness and a few things didn’t fall our way. We had a bunch of injuries. That happens sometimes.”
Now, however, he says Sporting KC has all the pieces to get back to the top, including several key additions headed by the return of bulldog midfielder Roger Espinoza. Another new teammate happens to be Servando Carrasco, who’s part of U.S. soccer’s other It Couple with his new wife, Alex Morgan.
Are some soccer royalty double-dates in the offing sometime soon? You bet there are.
“We went to their wedding,” says Dwyer, “and they’re a cool couple.”
It’s one more piece in the argument that Kansas City has become the soccer capital of America.