Dom Dwyer, Syd­ney Ler­oux live out soc­cer’s Amer­i­can Dream

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Dom Dwyer and Syd­ney Ler­oux are the quin­tes­sen­tial Amer­i­can suc­cess story. Born abroad, each came to the United States and dreamed of play­ing for the na­tional soc­cer team. Along the way they also found each other. This week­end, Dwyer scored in his in­ter­na­tional de­but, a 2-1 ex­hi­bi­tion vic­tory over Ghana, just 31/2 months af­ter he be­came a US cit­i­zen. Ler­oux, who holds dual cit­i­zen­ship, made her na­tional team de­but in 2011 and earned win­ner’s medals at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Dwyer and Ler­oux are the first hus­band-and­wife duo to each score for the US na­tional soc­cer team. “I think it’s the coolest thing. The fact is that both of us weren’t born here: We fol­lowed the Amer­i­can Dream,” Ler­oux said.

The cou­ple has a nine-month old son, Cas­sius, who was decked out in his own U.S. jersey to watch daddy’s de­but from the fam­ily’s home in the Kansas City area. Ler­oux also plays for FC Kansas City of the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League, while her hus­band plays for Ma­jor League Soc­cer’s Sport­ing Kansas City.

“I’m very proud of Syd­ney and what she’s achieved and still achiev­ing in the na­tional team, and I’ve got quite a few caps to catch up to her and a few goals, too, but hope­fully I can live up to it,” Dwyer said.

Born in Eng­land, Dwyer came to Amer­ica as a col­lege stu­dent, play­ing at Tyler Ju­nior Col­lege in Texas be­fore trans­fer­ring to South Florida for the 2011 sea­son. He was the 16th over­all pick for Sport­ing Kansas City in the 2012 MLS draft. He has 60 goals in 133 com­pet­i­tive matches for Sport­ing KC. Dwyer met Ler­oux in 2013 and they were mar­ried in early 2015. The two clev­erly an­nounced they’d tied the knot on Valen­tine’s Day that year, hold­ing hands and wear­ing their jer­seys: No. 2 for her and No. 14 for him un­der the name Dwyer.

While the cou­ple was start­ing a fam­ily, Dwyer was also work­ing to­ward a per­sonal goal: In March he be­came a US cit­i­zen. It was the first step to­ward play­ing for the na­tional team, a dream that came true in East Hart­ford, Con­necti­cut, on Satur­day when the 26-year-old striker scored in the 19th minute and cel­e­brated with a dou­ble back flip.

“It’s been a long road to get here, and I re­ally wanted to show the fans and show the coun­try I’m very pas­sion­ate about this coun­try, and I’m very hon­ored to play for this team, and hope­fully it’s some­thing we can build on,” he said.

He’ll have more chances to prove him­self in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the bi­en­nial cham­pi­onship for the North Amer­ica, Cen­tral Amer­ica and Caribbean re­gion. The United States opens Satur­day against Panama in Nashville.

“I know that it’s a fab­u­lous story that a fam­ily has both par­ents play­ing for their re­spec­tive na­tional teams,” men’s na­tional team coach Bruce Arena said. “That’s a pretty in­cred­i­ble story, so I’m real pleased for the Dwyers.”

Re­tired NBA star Kobe Bryant is a good friend of the cou­ple’s. “She’s like my lit­tle sis­ter. I would send her books that I’d read that had helped me, or talk to her ev­ery now and then about fo­cus and train­ing. I re­mem­ber get­ting the call that she was hav­ing a baby and how ex­cited we all were,” Bryant said. “And Dom, Dom’s just taken his game to an­other level. And now get­ting a call to the na­tional team. They’re like fam­ily.” Dwyer and Ler­oux, a 27-year-old for­ward, are just the fourth mar­ried cou­ple to play for the United States, join­ing Jim Gabarra and Carin Jennings, Clau­dio Reyna and Danielle Egan and Zach Loyd and Casey Nogueira. Egan’s only goal was in 1993, four years be­fore she mar­ried Reyna.

JUST THE BE­GIN­NING

When Dwyer was named to the na­tional team Ler­oux posted a lov­ing trib­ute to so­cial me­dia. “Two kids from two dif­fer­ent coun­tries from two com­pletely dif­fer­ent walks of life that found their way to Amer­ica and to each other be­cause of our love for the beau­ti­ful game. I can’t write a bet­ter story but I know this is just the be­gin­ning. Wel­come to the club. You have some catch­ing up to do though,” she wrote.

Ler­oux was born in Sur­rey, Bri­tish Columbia. At 15, and hold­ing dual cit­i­zen­ship, she moved to Ari­zona in hopes of grab­bing the at­ten­tion of the US Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion. She played for UCLA and the US Un­der-20 team be­fore mak­ing a sin­gle ap­pear­ance for the se­nior team in 2011 and scor­ing five goals in her sec­ond ap­pear­ance, a 13-0 rout of Gu­atemala in an Olympic qual­i­fier in Jan­uary 2012.

Ler­oux has 35 goals in 75 in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances. She took last year off - miss­ing the 2016 Rio Games and the FCKC sea­son - be­cause of her preg­nancy. The cou­ple wel­comed Cas­sius Cruz Dwyer in Septem­ber.

Cas­sius has be­come some­thing of a celebrity on his own, with 62,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. Ler­oux re­turned to the NWSL this sea­son, start­ing at for­ward and work­ing hard to re­gain her pre-preg­nancy form. This sea­son she has three goals and an as­sist. The cou­ple’s shared ca­reers bring added chal­lenges to par­ent­hood. “It’s not even the bal­ance of be­ing a mom and play­ing soc­cer. It’s the bal­ance of hav­ing your hus­band do­ing the ex­act same thing that I do,” she said fol­low­ing a re­cent FC Kansas City match. “We don’t have fam­ily here. It’s usu­ally just us, and I think there’s just two week­ends in the en­tire sea­son where we’re in Kansas City at the same time. Ei­ther I’m home and he’s away or he’s home and I’m away. So that bal­ance is hard.” But she quickly added that it’s worth it. “We’re both chasing our dreams and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. — AP

KANSAS CITY: In this photo pro­vided by Sport­ing Kansas City and taken March 16, 2017, from left to right, Dom Dwyer, in­fant son Cas­sius and wife Syd­ney Ler­oux gather for Dwyers nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­mony at Charles Evans Whit­taker Court­house in Kansas City, Mo. Dwyer and Ler­oux are the first hus­band and wife duo to each score for the US na­tional soc­cer team. — AP

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