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VIDEO: Sacha Kljestan finds Dom Dwyer for impressive Orlando City opener

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The USMNT connection was on point Friday night as Orlando City SC toppled the Philadelphia Union 2-0 on the road.

Dom Dwyer opened the scoring in the 38th minute on a beautiful pass from fellow US international Sacha Kljestan that put the visitors through. 32-year-old Kljestan, with acres of space in midfield, sucked three guys towards him just in time to dink a pass over the back line perfectly for a streaking Dwyer. One-on-one with Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake, the 27-year-old striker slotted the finish inside the far corner for the opening goal.

Perhaps the most fascinating and skillful part of the goal is how Dwyer collects Kljestan’s pass…off his back. A pinpoint turn at the point of contact controls the pass perfectly into his path on goal, and allows Dwyer to seamlessly transition from his run to attack Blake and the net.

Dwyer’s start to the season for Orlando has been prolific. After missing the first three games of the year with a hamstring injury, he’s now scored four goals in three games, proving the difference in each matchup. Kljestan himself has a goal and two assists so far this season.

Orlando City’s win pushed them towards the early-season upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams, moving them to a double-digit point total, six points back of the leaders NYCFC.

ORL 3-2 POR: Lions erase 2-0 deficit in 7-minute explosion

Photo credit: Orlando City SC / @OrlandoCitySC
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Orlando City SC and the Portland Timbers are undoubtedly two of the most confounding teams after the first month of the 2018 MLS season, and that statement rings even truer following the two side’s five-goal thriller at Orlando City Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Three things we learned yesterday in MLS ]

Orlando came out on top, erasing a 2-0 deficit during a seven-minute barrage inside the game’s final 10 minutes, but neither side put forth a strong enough 90-minute performance to give any indication they’re trending upward. Dom Dwyer scored the game-winning goal, his third of the young season, in the 87th minute.

Five minutes earlier, Sacha Kljestan made it 2-2 from the penalty spot after Dwyer won the penalty — in shall we say, controversial fashion — just two minutes after rookie Chris Mueller bagged his first MLS goal to halve the Lions’ deficit.

Here’s the good news for Portland: for roughly an hour, they completely dominated and controlled in a proactive manner — that’s to say, pressing and possession.

Here’s the bad news for Portland: head coach Giovanni Savarese made a pair of subs in the ensuing seven minutes that changed everything good his side had done for 60 minutes — Lawrence Olum (defensive midfielder/center back) and Dairon Asprilla (winger), for Cristhian Paredes (box-to-box midfielder) and Samuel Armenteros (forward). It was extremely negative and immediately gave away Portland’s stranglehold on the game.

Those first 60 minutes also highlighted just how badly Orlando are missing an influential midfielder capable of dictating tempo, circulating possession and driving forward. It wasn’t until Portland essentially conceding two-thirds of the field before Kljestan and Yoshi Yotun began to combine anywhere near the final third.

Uri Rosell is yet to make his debut in purple, and he should solve a lot of Orlando’s midfield problems and allow Kljestan the freedom he needs to do all of the above. Until he returns from injury, though, expect a couple-few more Jekyl-and-Hyde performances from Jason Kreis’s side.

Dwyer withdraws from USMNT camp due to injury

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CHICAGO (AP) Orlando City SC forward Don Dwyer has withdrawn from the U.S. soccer team’s training camp because of a strained right hamstring.

[ MORE: MLS comings & goings — LA, RSL, Colorado make big moves ]

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday that Dwyer will not be replaced on the roster ahead of the exhibition on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Carson, California.

Juan Agudelo, Jordan Morris, Christian Ramirez, Rubio Rubin and C.J. Sapong are the remaining forwards on the 29-man roster.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Full roster

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)

Defenders: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles FC)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids), Ian Harkes (D.C. United), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City SC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC), Rubio Rubin (Unattached), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union)

MLS Snapshot: Martinez, Dwyer, Larin score all 6 in ATL, ORL thriller

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The game in 100 words (or less more): First of all, let’s start with the numbers and get those out of the way. In three games at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, there have been 16 goals scored (13 by the home side, Atlanta United). Seven of those 16 goals have been scored by Josef Martinez (16 in 14 games this season), including three more (his second straight hat trick, joining Eddie Johnson and Robbie Keane as the only players in MLS history to achieve the feat) in Saturday’s breathtaking 3-3 draw with Orlando City SC.

On the other side, Dom Dwyer bagged his first two goals for Orlando City, while Cyle Larin also got his name on the scoresheet to bring his season tally to a dozen. While the six goals were certainly thrilling for the new MLS-record 70,425 fans in attendance, the result is hardly ideal for Atlanta (43 points), who so desperately needed to make good on their games in hand. With seven games left to play, Tata Martino’s side sits fifth in the Eastern Conference, just two points back of the Chicago Fire (with a game in hand), and seven back of second-place New York City FC. Orlando, meanwhile, remain ninth in the East, six points back of the sixth and final playoff place.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — TFC’s Shield chase continues in LA ]

Three Four Five Six moments that mattered

10′ — Dwyer heads home at a near-impossible angle — It took him seven appearances and 445 minutes, but Dwyer has his first goal since being traded to Orlando at the end of July.

36′ — Martinez taps home at the back post for 1-0 — Julian Gressel did the really hard part, keeping the ball in play and somehow sliding it past Joe Bendik. Martinez arrive to the right place at the right time, and it was 1-1.

39′ — Dwyer does it again, puts Orlando back ahead — 445 minutes for his first goal, but just 29 minutes for his second. 99 percent of strikers are streaky scorers, and Dwyer has never been any different.

55′ — Martinez rises above to head ATL level — Chris McCann’s cross begs to be headed into the back of the net, and Martinez duly obliges.

58′ — Larin heads home Dwyer’s cross to restore the lead — Scorer turns assister, as Dwyer floats the ball to the back post for Larin.

69′ — Martinez slots home at the near post for 3-3 — Martinez explodes into the space as he races to get onto the end of Hector Villalba’s cross. Terrible recognition on the defense’s part, and brilliant movement by Martinez.

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Man of the match: Josef Martinez

Goalscorers: Dwyer (10′, 39′), Martinez (36′, 55′, 69′), Larin (58′)

Dom Dwyer eyes “dream” Premier League move

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Orlando City and USMNT striker Dom Dwyer has been talking about a move to the Premier League.

Dwyer, 27, only move to Orlando from Sporting Kansas City in August but the U.S. national team striker — who has two goals in three games after being handed his debut by Bruce Arena — already has his eye on a move back to his native England with one-year left on his current MLS deal.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dwyer discusses his career in-depth as he retold his story of moving to the U.S. to play in college after being released by Norwich City, then becoming a star in MLS which led to his green card and his U.S. citizenship and a spot in the USMNT.

Dwyer still has bigger goals in mind.

“The dream was always to play in the Premier League and that would be a situation that would be difficult to turn down if it were to come,” Dwyer said. “Right now I’m focusing on things here and we’ll have to see what the future holds. I have one more year left on my contract and we’ll see from there. You never know in football.”

With 57 goals in 128 MLS games for Sporting KC, Dwyer has proven his prowess in front of goal but moving straight to the PL may be too big of a step up for the pacey forward. Perhaps a move to the English Championship or even the Dutch or French top flight would be a better fit to start with.

There’s no doubting his poaching abilities in the box and Dwyer obviously has confidence in himself, but these comments seem to suggest that his stay in Orlando will be short-lived as his ultimate aim is to move abroad.