TORONTO, Canada—Chris Armas is getting more options to play with, and there’s a chance we could see Toronto FC’s newest toy Dom Dwyer in action as early as this weekend when the Reds take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium.
According to the TFC head coach, Dwyer—who officially signed with the Reds on Tuesday— could be available for Saturday afternoon’s match, likely in a limited role off the bench.
“I would anticipate him being available for the weekend,” revealed Armas to media on Thursday. “With Dom’s situation, it’s balancing out wanting to have him available, but if you put him out there, is he ready for those minutes? Is he ready for 20-30 minutes?”
“You have to act responsibly,” he weighed. “Yes, after watching Dom train for last few days, and today, specifically, he’s healthy, he’s sharp, he’s gotten a few days now, I would anticipate him being an option.”
Dwyer hasn’t played in a match since undergoing successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee August 1 to treat a partial patella tendon tear suffered during the MLS is Back Tournament last season.
Whether or not he’ll be the same player remains to be seen at this point, but according to Armas, the 30-year-old striker’s decision to get the surgery was a proactive one and the TFC head coach has really liked what he’s seen out of Dwyer in training.
“He had an option to not get (the surgery) done,” explained Armas. “It was a patella tendon in his knee that partially tore ... before it completely ruptured or something, I think he chose to do it the right way, he was proactive with the surgery. When you see him train, and when you see him the play—full field, small-sided, sprinting, cutting, shooting—it seems like he’s in a really good place and that’s what we’ve been able to assess over this last stretch, over a month.”
While some may perceive Dwyer’s addition as a bit of a low-risk, high-reward rehab assignment early on, the TFC coaching staff—and the MLS Cup winner himself—certainly don’t see it that way. With the injury hopefully behind the former U.S. international, you can expect Dwyer, who is signed through next season, to push the rest of the Toronto FC frontline for minutes this season.
“Dom doesn’t want to be just around—floating around. He wants to start,” said Armas. “He wants to score goals. He loves the intensity. We’re talking about a proven guy in MLS. He’s a proven striker, and he’s an aggressive striker. He’s an aggressive player. He embraces what we’re trying to do here.
“Listen, he’s excited. He’s going to push Jozy (Altidore). He’s going to push Ayo (Akinola), Pat (Mullins). He’s going to push Jordan (Perruzza), because this is what he does. He’s a starter, and he’s going to get starts...”
While his quality will be a welcome addition to the team—he has 84 MLS goals in all competitions (more than anyone currently on the TFC roster)—where the Reds also see a ton of value will be in his overall presence.
“What we love about him most is that he’s a guy that brings intensity and some quality up the pitch, and he’s going to push,” said Armas. “He’s going to push, and it’s going to make everyone around him better.
“And he’s a big personality in the team, we like guys that have some personality and some bite, and we think that our team could use a dose of Dom...”
Toronto FC return to action Saturday against New York City FC with kickoff slated for 1 pm ET. Look out for Dwyer to potentially make his TFC debut, sometime late in the second half.