The Full 90

Covering Sporting Kansas City and soccer throughout the Midwest and the world

Sporting KC ’14 Preview: Deep group of forwards return in search of more goals

03/07/2014 12:08 AM

03/07/2014 12:17 AM

When you add the gold star to your uniform, everyone comes gunning for you the next year. Every opponent brings its A game every night. Either they want to knock you off or prove a point. Or both.

This year, thats what Sporting Kansas City can expect week in, week out.

Good thing KC returns the majority of its title-winning club. To rise to the challenges, theyll likely need each and every player to contribute.

On Monday, we took at a look at the goalkeepers. Tuesday, it was the defense. Wednesday, the midfield. Today, we look at a group that is fairly unchanged from last years group and will be under serious pressure to produce: The forwards.

The Cast

Returning:

Claudio Bieler, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad, C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi

Leaving:

Teal Bunbury

Incoming:

Sal Zizzo

Leading Man

Bieler

Looking only at the numbers, its hard to figure out the Argentine designated players 2013 season. He led the team in scoring with 10 goals and, with his four assists, was responsible for nearly 30 percent of KCs offense. He scored the game-winning goal in the first-round playoff series against New England and is the best pure finisher on the team.

However, he only managed to go 90 minutes in 12 of his 28 appearances and didnt go the full 90 in any game after June 1. Also, seven of his 10 goals came between March 2nd and June 1st.

A combination of injury, fitness and tactical omission kept him out of the starting lineup for 13 of the teams last 14 games. The younger Dwyer took over his starting spot and pushed him to the bench for three of the five playoff games.

Was that a good year? A disappointing year? Both? Probably both. Which wasnt really good enough for what was expected of him and his high salary. Kansas City needs better from him this year to compete in the league and the champions league.

By all accounts this preseason, Bieler has been reinvigorated and Sporting fit. He led the team in goals (5) and assists (6) this preseason playing in both the traditional striker role and in a new underneath striker/attacking midfielder position.

This half-volley in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic final was something to watch over and over and over again.