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.
The 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.