TUSCON, Ariz. – It was nice to lock down a preseason victory against the Portland Timbers, but Friday night's match also gave Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes a glimpse of what the club's newest Designated Player will bring to the table.
Ecuadorian Claudio Bieler played the first half hour for Sporting, making his first appearance with his new team in a 1-0 victory against Caleb Porter's new-look Timbers.
Did he impress Vermes? Sure, but his brief cameo also reinforced that the former LDU Quito goalscorer still has plenty more to show once he gets fit and accilmated to his new teammates.
"He's going to be very good for us in the build up," Vermes said. " He can hold on to the ball. He checks in to the right places on the field."
"He's got a very good sense for the game," he continued. "I think he's going to find himself on the end of a lot of stuff with the way we play. His first 30 minutes were solid. We are just going to have to build him up more and more as we get closer to the start of the season."
Bieler has one month to get ready for Sporting's season-opening visit to PPL Park, and even he'll acknowledge he has work to do to reach the levels he became accustomed to in Ecuador.
"After working very hard in training, I got my first minutes with the team and it felt pretty good," the forward said through a translator after the match. "There is still some time to get used to the team, but I see them playing very well. We are missing depth," he said. "But as time goes on, we will all get the hang of it."
These were Bieler's first minutes in preseason after recovering from a hamstring injury. Team staff had kept him off the field because of cold weather.
"More than anything it was a precaution," he said. "It wasn't that I couldn't play. We decided to play today, and I feel good. I am ready for the [90 minutes]."