Less than 40 days after winning the club's second MLS Cup Championship, Sporting Club chief executive officer Robb Heineman is already well into his preparations for the busy 2014 season, including the MLS Combine and Super Draft.
But even with the hectic business schedule heading into January 24's kickoff to preseason play, Heineman was able to sit down and answer a few of our questions regarding the club, both now and down the road.
The Daily Wiz: Has the vision of the club, specifically towards building a fan base and buying for relevancy, changed or evolved since becoming so prominent in Kansas City?
Robb Heineman: Sure. I think you have always got to talk about modifying your goals. I think we're probably ahead of the trend on where we thought we would be as it relates to fan development. So, for us, it's how do we take that next step forward and grow broadcast ratings and continue to grow our relevance with non-soccer people? That's the goal for this next year is really to step outside of just the core fan demographic and see what else we can do for growth.
TDW: Would it be fair to call this club the San Antonio Spurs of Major League Soccer? In terms of a team mentality, success without flashy, "big-name" players, and getting the most out of draft picks and trades?
RH: If it means having championship success the way the San Antonio Spurs have had it, that would be just fine with us.
TDW: And on the topic of big-name players, MLS has seen a recent trend of high-profile players coming to America to play soccer. Seattle with Clint Dempsey last year, and Jermaine Defoe and Michael Bradley expected with Toronto FC this year. Does this club have the desire to pursue this type of player, and do you see the club signing one sooner rather than later?
RH: The successful formula for us has been based off of continuity and development. That's going to continue to be our philosophy and that's something that we will invest in heavily. If opportunistically we can do things that help advance that goal, we will.
TDW: Both you and Peter have been adamant about helping players reach their goal of playing in the top leagues around the world; obviously, you've already done so with Roger [Espinoza] and Kei [Kamara]. However, with more and more players coming to MLS, and the league's desire to become one of the best around the world, will the focus soon be on keeping players stateside? For the fans, this question is especially true for Graham [Zusi] and Matt [Besler], who are expected to draw heavy attention overseas after this year's World Cup.
RH: Our main motivation in encouraging players over to Europe is fulfilling their goals and dreams. As the league shifts and becomes a more prominent world brand, some of those desires may change. Our thought process around someone like Graham Zusi in particular has always been: make the decision very difficult for him to go when and if he ever decides he wants to go. We're going to continue to try to do that.
TDW: 2020 has been called a benchmark year for MLS. For Sporting Kansas City, where do you want to be and what do you want to have accomplished by then?
RH: I think we're focused on 2014; 2020 is a long ways out to think. There's way too much work that has got to be done in the short term to think that far out. For us, we're going to be focused on trying to continue to grow and sustain what we have. That will be where we spend most of our time.
TDW: Lastly, if you could sum up this club, top down, in one sentence, what would it be?
RH: Emerging with lots of work to do.
Be sure to checkout our feature on Heineman and Sporting Kansas City to see why they're not satisfied with winning just one championship.