Sporting KC's potential forward pairing of Claudio Bieler, Dom Dwyer could prove vexing for opponents
That bodes well for the defending MLS Cup champions' depth in what has already shaped up to be a long season, manager Peter Vermes said. And it could provide problems of another sort for opponents this year if Vermes' decision to put both on the pitch at once several times in the preseason wasn't just an experiment.
Vermes focused on the former issue at this week's annual media day, ahead of Saturday's regular-season opener Saturday at Seattle (3 pm ET; NBCSN).
“It's great to see them scoring goals,” said Vermes, whose club hosts Mexico's Cruz Azul on Wednesday in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. “With as many competitions as we have, we need guys that are hungry and are scoring goals and are playing.”
Bieler – the Argentine Designated Player who led Sporting with 12 goals across all competition last year and netted five goals and six assists this preseason – found himself playing an attacking midfield role early this preseason with Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi at the US national team's January camp and Peterson Joseph still sidelined by a mystery ailment that has kept him out since last fall.
But he continued to see occasional time in midfield after Zusi and Feilhaber returned, including a full-90 stint with a goal in the championship match of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, and has said he's comfortable in the role after playing there as a teenager.
“It felt good playing with [Dwyer],” Bieler told MLSsoccer.com through a translator on Tuesday. “Obviously, I've got to do whatever the coach tells me to do and be able to adapt. That's the great thing about our team, is that our players have the ability to adapt and play different positions.”
Dwyer, who emerged as Sporting's first choice late in 2013 after a record-shattering loan spell at USL PRO affiliate Orlando City, said that however Vermes chooses to use them, having two forwards on their scoring form can only help.
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“He's a fantastic player, and I have a lot of respect for him, so it's good,” Dwyer said. “We need goals, and we're going to continue to score throughout the year. It's all about winning games, and we've got a lot of games going on. We've just got to find out what works for us and stick with it.”
And if both find themselves on the pitch at the same time, Vermes said, he knows they'll put team success ahead of individual production.
“I don't think that's ever been a problem in our team,” Vermes told reporters on Friday, during a conference call from Seattle. “Everybody understands that the most important thing is the team. It's not any one individual. I think that's been demonstrated by the players. It's been demonstrated by the club in the way that we have adhered to our philosophy. So I don't ever have it in my mind that the players on the field are going to be selfish or not do those things.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.