KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Robb Heineman gets it. People want to see Dom Dwyer bring his red-hot scoring touch into Sporting Park to take on the club that loaned him out, with a berth in the US Open Cup quarterfinals on the line.
But that simply won't happen when the tournament resumes on June 12, when SKC host USL-PRO side Orlando City. Sporting's CEO said Thursday that none of the team's four players on loan – including Dwyer – will play when the teams meet in the fourth round on June 12.
“The gentlemen's agreement that we had with Orlando City was that they weren't going to,” Heinemann said. “Look, it's not optimal, probably, for those guys, but what we're about is winning championships. If those guys could impact that in a negative way – which, with the quality of players they are, they could – then they're not going to play.”
Added SKC head coach Peter Vermes: “It's a competition that we want to be successful in. We have guys who are playing there that we loaned them. Regardless of what any other team does, we have our own philosophy, and we're making our own decision based on whether or not we think it's the proper thing for them to be playing against us in this competition.”
There are issues that run deeper than the drama, Vermes said, and those have to be considered as Sporting Kansas City look to defend the USOC crown they won last summer. The Cup title comes with a spot in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, in addition to the winners' prize of $250,000.
READ: Kamara, Bieler lead SKC past Des Moines Menace in third round of USOC
And in any loan situation in any country, Vermes said, a club has the right to hold a loanee to a noncompete policy – especially when Sporting are paying the salaries of the loaned players.
“They're not there to compete against us,” Vermes said. “They're there to get better, so that at some point we can bring them back to us when they've gotten good experience. But that doesn't mean that would be against us in a competition."
And with the loanees under contract to Sporting and not the Lions, Vermes said, allowing them to play against their parent club carries the potential for conflict of interest.
“We're paying their salaries,” he said. “Should we pay them to play against us?”
READ: Check out the schedule for the fourth round of the USOC
Goalkeeper Jon Kempin and defender Yann Songo'o are also both cup-tied to the Lions, who beat the Colorado Rapids 3-1 in Tuesday's third-round match. Midfielder Christian Duke is also on loan, but has not appeared in any Cup matches.
Dwyer scored twice against the Rapids, giving him three Cup goals to go along with his 13 in just 11 USL PRO appearances this year.
“I would guess that a guy like Dom, who's performing the way he's playing right now, probably would like to come back and see if he can perform well in the game,” Heinemann said. “He's got a bunch of pride, and I don't begrudge him for that whatsoever. But from our perspective, we look at it long-term, organizationally, and we know he's going to be a kid someday who's going to be scoring a bunch of goals in this stadium.”
The flap could have been avoided, Vermes said, with better bracketing to keep affiliates from playing each other – as happened on Tuesday, when D.C. United beat Richmond in a shootout, and New England crushed Rochester 5-1.
“Maybe we would have seen them later,” he said. “Maybe we wouldn't have. But seeing them this early, it should have been thought through. That's something we tried to discuss early on, but obviously nobody paid too much attention or didn't think it was that big of an issue.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.