Kansas City of MLS hires longtime New England general manager Mike Burns as its sporting director

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City hired longtime New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns as its sporting director Friday as the MLS club tries to turn around a freefall that has left it near the bottom of the Western Conference.

Burns will oversee Sporting KC’s player recruitment, roster-building strategy and development of the club’s professional player pathway program, which includes MLS NEXT team Sporting KC II and the Sporting KC Academy.

The move comes after the club parted ways Monday with Brian Bliss, who had been serving as technical director and vice president of player personnel. Bliss had been a part of the club’s technical staff since 2016.

It also comes after Sporting KC tried to hire longtime Portland Timbers and Thorns executive Gavin Wilkinson for the job of sporting director in January, only to reverse course amid public backlash. Wilkinson had been fired by Portland after multiple investigations into the organization’s handling of alleged misconduct by players and coaches.

Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes, the longest-tenured coach in MLS history, had served as the club’s technical director from 2006-18 and its sporting director from 2019-23. But the club announced in January that it had given Vermes the title of chief soccer officer and that it would hired a sporting director to help handle roster construction.

As sporting director, Burns will report to Vermes.

Burns, who spent two seasons in Kansas City during his playing career, had been a part of New England’s technical staff for 15 years, leading the club to four Eastern Conference championships and the U.S. Open Cup title. He moved into the GM role in 2011 and remained there until 2019.

Burns then spent two years consulting for MLS on league affairs and its developmental programs.


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