Sporting KC get "their guy," sign Designated Player Claudio Bieler

Andy Edwards

Sporting Kansas City announced on Tuesday the signing of new Designated Player, forward Claudio Bieler from LDU Quito of Ecuador. Sporting president/CEO Robb Heineman did well to get "their guy."

Finding "the right fit" in the soccer world is paramount to all; to a big name, to getting a great deal, to getting the better end of a trade. And Sporting Kansas City believe they got just that in their newly acquired Designated Player, forward Claudio Bieler, announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

"The right fit" is exactly the reason Sporting KC technical director/head coach Peter Vermes and Sporting Club president/CEO Robb Heineman were content to go through the entire 2012 season without a DP on the books. In that instance, it was a case of finding the wrong fit, and finding it often.

"I appreciate the commitment that Neil (Patteson) and Cliff (Illig) and Greg (Maday) and Pat (Curran) and the ownership group made to make this happen, because it's not a simple thing to do in small markets," Heineman said. "We've been pretty clear on what our goals are, and that's to win championships. This year was a fine year, it wasn't a fantastic year. Winning a Cup was good, but we want to win more Cups.

"We felt as though we're in a moment in this organization where a piece here and there could really make the difference. We've always felt (Claudio's) mentality and the way he played would fit this team really well and he would fit in the way Peter wants to play.

"He's got a lot of support around him, so it's not as if it's a torch he has to carry by himself. It's a time in our organization that it's time to go for it. It's a time to win multiple Cups in multiple years and string them together, and now's the time to do that."

The philosophy of Sporting even from early days of the OnGoal, LLC ownership era has had a distinct, un-wavering feel: the right guy, that fits their project in the right way, and at the right price. "Certainly, Claudio's record speaks for itself," assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin said at Tuesday's introductory press conference. "His goal-scoring ability is his biggest strength. To add him to the group of an already athletic, powerful, promising young group is a tremendous addition to that part of the field."

Some may have looked at the DP-less 2012 season as a lack of commitment from an ownership group perceived to be very progressive and wholly devoted to building a winning organization. On the other hand, looking a bit deeper might reveal that it was an unwillingness to spend big money for a player or players that would not ultimately fulfill the needs of the club and mortgage a potentially bright future to appease fans and media alike, providing a false sense of commitment through wild investment.

Bieler, who goes by the nickname "El Taca," is a player long admired by Vermes and Co. With rumors of the player's imminent departure from now former club LDU Quito of the Ecuador top division and an arrival in MLS heavy since the summer months, the signing of Bieler is not one made without careful deliberation and weighed investment.

"Kansas City has followed me for the last few years and know how important winning is to me," Bieler said. "It was a little hard to leave, as the fans at my old team wanted what I did, championships. Now I am excited to be here in KC and want to earn all of the hearts of the fans or 'hincha' like they call it in Ecuador. I am here and determined to win."

And Bieler is a player the coaching staff will expect to see a return on investment, in the form of rippled nets and balls in the back of the goal, from the word 'Go' on his time in Kansas City. "Claudio, no doubt, if he does what he's done over the course of his career, he will provide goals for us," Zavagnin anticipated.

If those possibilities comes to fruition, the DP-less twelve months endured by Sporting fans and staff alike will long be a memory of the past. And if those possibilities are truly realized, Vermes, Heineman and Co. will have quite simply knocked another major decision in the club's history books clear out of the park.

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