Eight years ago, Dom Dwyer could never have imagined himself lining up against the world champions.
Yet, on Wednesday night, he became a Major League Soccer All-Star, playing his part as Bayern Munich were beaten at Providence Park.
Norwich City release
He was released by Norwich City and eventually left England in 2009, having endured wretched luck with injuries. The Sussex-born forward, now 24, moved to the United States to study at Tyler Junior College in Texas. Dwyer fired 52 goals in 42 college matches for the Apaches, and was named NJCAA National Player of the Year in his sophomore year, then moving to the University of South Florida, where he notched 16 in 21.
This record earned him a Generation adidas deal, a spot on the adiZero roster at the 2012 MLS Combine - where he scored once - and a contract with Sporting Kansas City, as the 16th overall pick in the SuperDraft.
Orlando loan move
If he thought he'd made it, Dwyer was mistaken. He featured only three times in his maiden campaign as a professional, failing to find the net. As before though, adversity only brought out the best in the Englishman, and a loan to Orlando City the following season brought incredible results. Striking 22 times in just 17 appearances, he helped the Lions to their second USL Pro Championship, becoming an instant fans' favourite in the process.
His reward was a return to Kansas, but again his form was inconsistent. However, after scoring only twice in 16 league games, his breakthrough came in the MLS Cup play-offs. His left-footed effort with half an hour remaining of the semi-final second leg against the Houston Dynamo secured a place in the final, where the Wizards came out on top. One season, two titles.
With this confidence boost, Dwyer has taken the States by storm in 2014. He sits second in the MLS goal charts, behind Bradley Wright-Phillips, while Sporting lead the Supporters' Shield standings.
Originally missing out on All-Star honours, Dwyer happened to be called up as a replacement for a man with whom he shares many attributes, Jermain Defoe. Quick, powerful and an instinctive finisher, though well under six-foot, the Kansas City man was born 60 miles south of the former Tottenham Hotspur star.
Meeting his hero
After collecting Defoe's shirt in May, Dwyer posted on his Instagram: "Another dream come true last night! No better feeling than playing against players you look up to and only dreamt of playing against." With the latter's international ambitions in their infancy, there's even a chance that he could once again prove his hero's deputy.
For now though, the focus is on his club future. St Mirren tried to bring the one-time community coach back to Britain prior to his Orlando loan, but there is interest now from Brentford - Wright-Phillips' old stomping ground.
Though there is a possibility that staying in the MLS could lead to a career with Team USA, and the Bees have already invested in several new front-men, they are a club on the up and represent a genuine hope of Premier League football.
Either way, Dwyer has a decision to make.
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