Sporting KC

Claudio Bieler, Sporting Kansas City agree to part ways

Sporting KC forward Claudio Bieler celebrated scoring the game-winning goal in the second overtime on Nov. 6, 2013, in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals against the New England Revolution at Sporting Park.
Sporting KC forward Claudio Bieler celebrated scoring the game-winning goal in the second overtime on Nov. 6, 2013, in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals against the New England Revolution at Sporting Park. The Kansas City Star

Claudio Bieler is returning home.

Bieler and Sporting Kansas City mutually agreed to part ways, coach Peter Vermes said Tuesday, after it became evident that Bieler’s playing time would be limited this season behind striker Dom Dwyer on the depth chart.

The breakup paves the way for Bieler to join Quilmes in the Argentine Primera Division in his home country, according to the club’s official website.

Sporting KC will not receive a transfer fee but will exhaust Bieler’s designated-player contract from its budget.

“I think Claudio is a very good player. But I think the emergence and the aggression of Dom — and the timing that it happened — changed everything,” Vermes said. “It’s not that (Bieler) is a bad player. It’s just that Dom came on strong, and he’s our center forward.”

Bieler, 30, signed his deal with Sporting KC prior to the 2013 season, when he was charged with invigorating life into the club’s offense. He followed suit with nine goals over the first half of the season — and 10 for the full year — before an injury opened an opportunity for Dwyer atop the club’s formation.

Dwyer played a key part in the team’s 2013 MLS postseason run — which resulted in the league’s championship — and he never relinquished the job, leaving Bieler with only four MLS starts last season. He scored twice in 13 league appearances. Dwyer, meanwhile, enjoyed a breakout 2014 season with a franchise-record 22 goals.

Dwyer signed a contract extension in the offseason, leaving Bieler as a likely bench option if he stayed with the club in 2015. The team also added depth to the position last month when it signed Hungarian forward Krisztian Nemeth.

“It was going to be tough for Claudio to get playing time,” Vermes said. “He’s a guy that wants to play. … If there was an opportunity for him to go play somewhere else, we (would) mutually agree to terminate his contract and let him go. That’s basically what transpired.”

The departure of Bieler opened a designated-player spot for Sporting KC. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi signed designated-player contracts last summer. Clubs are allowed three designated player roster spots.

Vermes said Sporting KC possesses enough allocation funds to buy down either Besler or Zusi’s contracts to create an additional designated player spot, but that no longer appears necessary.

Sporting KC is still working on two roster additions, though neither is imminent, and it doesn’t stand as a likely scenario that either would qualify as designated-player status. In regard to whether the team would look to immediately add a designated player, Vermes responded, “Everything is open at the moment.”

To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SamMcDowell11.

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