Sporting Kansas City sent waves throughout Major League Soccer on Saturday, inking new Designated Player contracts with national teams stars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler for the longterm. The announcement came in the wake of increased interest from European clubs in both players after Brazil 2014, but the defending MLS Cup champions have locked up both players early in the transfer window in what is a statement making move from the club.
Naturally the move drew some criticism from the anti-MLS crowd, who want to see the USMNT pair challenge themselves in Europe. A stance that SKC president Robb Heineman took aim at to the media on Saturday, referring to the claims that staying in Kansas City will be a bad career move for both Zusi and Besler as “Complete BS.”
Talking to MLSSoccer.com, Heineman referred to SKC as “one of the best clubs in the world from a developmental perspective” as well as saying that the club aims to become one of the best in the world in addition to being the best in MLS already in taking on the critics of the league thoughts as “complete crap.”
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff on social media around – ‘Oh, you know, this is not a good decision for the guys from a national team perspective’ – and to me, that’s complete BS,” he told reporters. “This is one of the best clubs in the world from a development perspective. The opportunity and the tools that are available here, including Peter and the way he trains these guys, is world-class. So any reference or thought that it’s not a first-class opportunity for these guys to be here, to me, is just complete crap.
“This club has the desire to be one of the greatest in the world,” he continued. “I think right now, we’re the greatest in MLS. Frankly, I think there’s no question that we’re the greatest in MLS. And we’re going to do everything that we can to try to continue to advance the vision of the club over time.”
The defending champions of the league, there is little question about SKC’s quality as a club as well as their ambitions for success. However Heineman may have hurt his fair stance towards the critics by being so aggressive towards people who are going to have a negative opinion towards the league regardless of its growing quality, something that made it easier for Zusi and Besler to turn down a potential spot on a European club in the first place. Only time will tell how the DP contracts for Zusi and Besler pan out for both the two USMNT starters as well as for the club, but if you ask Rob Heineman it is the start of Sporting Kansas City becoming one of the top clubs in the sport. If that vision becomes a reality, Zusi and Besler’s new deals will go down as the landmark beginnings of a new era in MLS that Sporting Kansas City are envisioning by locking up their two homegrown stars.