Donnelly: Sporting KC Finally Strikes Striker

claudio+bielerAfter this past season’s disappointing exit in the first round of the playoffs, almost all the Sporting KC talk has been centered on signing an impact striker that can score goals…

Head honcho Robb Heineman has stated his desire to get a true goal scorer repeatedly. And the media has speculated endlessly about a “Spanish DP” or a “South American striker.”  Meanwhile, Sporting made several trades for defenders and a midfielder.

So where is our goal machine?

Well, the wait’s over, KC has a Designated Player once again, and his name is…Claudio Bieler

Bieler hails from Argentina, is 28 years old, and was called up by Diego Maradonna to the national team as recently as 2010.  He’s been on Sporting’s radar for awhile, even training with them for a time last season.

“He’s proven over the years that he’s a very consistent goal scorer,” Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes says. “We think he’s got a lot of good qualities that can fit into our team. Everything from his commitment to being a team player, to his work ethic out on the field, to a guy that lives and breathes for club that he plays for. We’re excited that we’re able to finally secure him and add a player of his caliber to our organization.”

To be honest, I’ve never seen Bieler play, and never really heard of him before this due to the fact that he’s been playing in the Ecuadorian League for the past few years.  But his numbers don’t lie – 18 goals in 32 games last season.

In the past, Sporting KC has utilized the DP mechanism of the MLS sparingly – which allows certain players to be signed without regard for the salary cap – and with mediocre success at best.

Last year we had Mexican star Omar Bravo, who performed fairly well until he got injured and fell out of favor with Vermes.  And dismal failure Jeferson (remember him?).  Before that it was Argentinean old guy Claudio Lopez, who was underwhelming at best.

Many other DPs around the league have had a similarly small impact on the bottom lines of their clubs.  Look at Torsten Frings, Eric Hassli and Danny Koevermans at Toronto FC.  Toronto finished dead last in all of MLS in 2012.

David Beckham from the LA Galaxy reactsThe point being, simply signing a DP doesn’t necessarily translate to wins, and the DPs around the league aren’t necessarily the best players.  Take a glance at the most recent Best XI and you’ll see that only 3 DPs made the cut – Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry.

Sporting KC excelled last season without a single Designated Player, but eventual champs, the LA Galaxy had three – David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

So let’s reserve judgment on Bieler.

I know he’s not the splashy name that anyone really wanted, but splashy isn’t always good (see Toronto, above).  The most important thing will be how he adapts to the style of MLS, which is much different than most South American leagues.

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8 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting KC Finally Strikes Striker

  1. the dude says:

    If he can score and play a little midfield D that’s all we need.

  2. % says:

    I read on Twitter some speculation that he could hit a seven-figure payday with Sporting Kansas City. For that sum, he better score an awful lot of goals.

    I don’t know much about the guy. Nor do I know anything about the style that’s played in the Ecuadorian leagues. But South American players, generally, have fared well in the MLS.

    • Matt says:

      Sure, some South American players have fared well when you’re speaking of the entire MLS. But what about getting more specific – South American DPs that have signed with Sporting, i.e. Jeferson and Claudio Lopez?

      Just heard Vermes on 810 and he seemed intent on tempering any high expectations for Bieler. He refused to say that Bieler would be THE guy, saying instead that their new DP would simply be a good piece of the puzzle.

      • % says:

        If they are indeed paying him anywhere near $1 million and their previous high was for Cesar (about $270,000 from what I recall) he better be THE guy.

  3. Mysterious J says:

    Reasonable risk here assuming the price wasn’t TOO high. Nice to see ownership making an investment on the pitch. This team is going to need to be MUCH deeper than last season to make a go of it in three different competitions. Hopefully we can limit the meaningless friendlies with European clubs next summer.

  4. legendaryhog says:

    Billy likes soda. Miss Lippy’s car is green.

  5. Rick Nichols says:

    Shopping South American Style

    Sporting likes Argentinean striker and puts out a feeler,
    Flashes some serious Yankee dollars and procures Bieler –
    Now the team’s head honcho is one happy wheeler-dealer!
    But does this Ecuadorian acquisition equate to an MLS title?
    Indeed, it’s way too early to declare Claudio KC’s next idol.

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