Sporting Kansas City introduced 28-year-old forward Claudio Bieler as a Designated Player on Tuesday in a press conference held at Livestrong Sporting Park. He will be added to the club's roster pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa, and will occupy a senior international roster spot.
"He's proven over the years that he's a very consistent goalscorer," Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. "We think he's got a lot of good qualities that can fit into our team. Everything from his commitment to being a team player, to his work ethic out on the field, to a guy that lives and breathes for club that he plays for. We're excited that we're able to finally secure him and add a player of his caliber to our organization."
Bieler, an Argentina native who holds dual citizenship in Ecuador, has scored 57 goals in 110 league games for LDU Quito in Ecuador's Serie A and his 71 goals in 155 games in all competitions for the club are the most in team history (click here for highlights). Sporting Kansas City and LDU Quito agreed to terms on an undisclosed transfer fee for the acquisition of Bieler.
"Kansas City has followed me for the last few years and know how important winning is to me," Bieler said in a statement. "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."
Nicknamed "El Taca," Bieler was the second leading scorer in Ecuador this year with 20 goals in 34 games during the regular season. The campaign, which came to a close on Sunday, marked the third time in Bieler's four-year career with the club that he finished amongst the league's top three goalscorers.
In 2009, he scored 22 goals in 32 appearances to lead the League and was named the top striker by the Ecuador Association of Broadcasters. In 2008, his 13 goals in 31 appearances were third most amongst all players in Serie A.
In international competition, Bieler helped lead LDU Quito to numerous titles in some of CONMEBOL's most prestigious tournaments. Bieler scored three times in the 2008 Copa Libertadores, including the opening goal in the finals against Brazil's Fluminense, to see LDU Quito become the first team from Ecuador to be crowned champions of South America's most important club competition. The victory qualified LDU Quito for the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup and 2009 Recopa Sudamericana, where Bieler scored goals at opportune times in both tournaments.
At the Club World Cup in Japan, Bieler scored the game-winning goal in the semifinals against Mexico's Pachuca and started in the championship against European giants Manchester United. In the Recopa Sudamericana finals, Bieler scored in both legs of the home-and-away series against Brazil's Internacional, including the decisive goal to give LDU Quito their second international title in as many years.
After appearing in the 2009 Copa Libertadores, Bieler would continue his exploits on the international stage at the 2009 Copa Sudamericana. He recorded hat tricks in the round of 16 and semifinals en route to eight goals as the tournament's top scorer. It was the third most goals scored by a player in Copa Sudamericana history and LDU Quito would once again prevail over Fluminense to become the first team from Ecuador to lift the trophy.
Bieler's professional career began in Argentina's Primera División with Club Atlético Colón in 2005. After moving to Atlético de Rafaela, he led Argentina's Nacional B with 16 goals in 2006-07 and continued his career with Chile's Colo-Colo. He scored six goals for the club, including a goal in the 2007 Torneo Clausura championship second leg.
Between stays with LDU Quito from 2008-09 and 2011-12, Bieler returned to Argentina. As a member of Racing Club de Avellaneda, he scored eight goals in 2010, and later spent a loan spell with Newell's Old Boys, where he scored three times.
Bieler becomes Sporting Kansas City's fourth Designated Player since the rule was implemented by Major League Soccer prior to the 2007 season, joining Claudio López (2008), Omar Bravo (2011) and Jéferson (2011). He is the first Designated Player signed by an MLS team this offseason.