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Sporting KC Hire Mike Burns as New Sporting Director



Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club had filled their Sporting Director position, hiring former New England Revolution General Manager, Mike Burns for the position. Burns spent fifteen years with the Revolution, in various roles before being named the GM in 2011 until he was fired in May of 2019. Burns’ last role was as a consultant with MLS mainly involved with the growth of MLS NEXT and MLS NEXT Pro.

Burns steps into a rough, but open situation in Kansas City as Sporting sit in thirteenth of fourteen teams in MLS’s Western Conference ahead of only the San Jose Earthquakes. He does have the chance to help completely remake the roster, especially in the offseason as Sporting KC has eighteen players that are either out of contract or on options at the end of the 2024 season.

In his time with New England they made three straight MLS Cups in his first three seasons with the club in 2005, 2006, 2007. The Revolution won the North American SuperLiga in 2008 as well. After being named GM in 2011 the club got back to some success, reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2013 before losing to Sporting KC, then advanced to MLS Cup in 2014, and then the US Open Cup final in 2016. His time as GM though was not the best in the club’s history. While they made those two runs in 2013 and 2014, those were two of only three times in his nine year run in the position that the club made the playoffs. During his tenure as GM, the Revolution went 96-119-70. His last three plus seasons (2016 through May of 2019) were rougher as the Revs went 37-50-28 before Burns and head coach Brad Friedel were fired as New England brought in Bruce Arena.

His time with New England was seen as hit or miss, he was successful in the draft during the time when it was still the best, most consistent way to fill the roster, drafting the likes of Kelyn Rowe, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye, and Tajon Buchanan. He also had success acquiring other American talent, signing the likes of Matt Turner as an undrafted free agent and Lee Nguyen after he was waived by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

He’s had his fair share of signings that have failed as well, especially on the Designated Player side of things, with the likes of Milton Caraglio, Jerry Bengston, Xavier Kouassi, and Claude Dielna all underwhelming. During his time with the league he also developed a reputation among his peers as one of the worst GMs in the league to negotiate with. And upon his firing from New England in 2019, it was said he was a “needlessly tough negotiator, poor roster builder, and questionable talent acquisition practices.”

Before joining the Revolution front office, Burns had been a player with the club for much of his playing career, joining the Revs for the league’s inaugural season in 1996. He was also a member of the 1994 and 1998 US World Cup teams. He actually closed his professional career in Kansas City, playing his final two seasons with the Wizards. Where he played with the club’s current head coach, Peter Vermes.

The question for Burns will be what lessons has he learned from five years outside an MLS front office to bring back into the position. And can he step into a league that has evolved even just in the five years that he’s been out of the front office. His final years at New England as MLS transitioned from “MLS 2.0” to “MLS 3.0” were extremely rough on Burns and New England as they fell behind other teams who were more ambitious and spent more on player acquisition. Maybe his time working with the leagues youth and developmental league will help Kansas City push their academy forward, an area that has struggled at times in recent years. At the same time hopefully he’s been able to keep some of his talent acquisition contacts (as well as make new ones given his hits and misses from his time with New England).

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