MLS Cup 2013: An apology to Peter Vermes

Jamie Squire

A first person account of how I realized that it was Peter Vermes' tactics, subs and strategies that have helped get Sporting Kansas City to the MLS Cup.

It happens every time Sporting Kansas City loses or draws a game they shouldn't have. I admit to it as well. As fans, we are irrational when it comes to our teams, especially when our teams are not winning.

I will also admit that I was silently thinking throughout the season that my approval of Peter Vermes as manager was dropping with every home loss, every disappointing draw and every game that featured an odd lineup.

Call it entitled and call it spoiled because that's what it is. I felt that Sporting Kansas City needed to get to the MLS Cup and finally make that step that had eluded them the past couple of years. If not, then the frustration would continue to grow inside of me that had been growing ever since the Dynamo scored that second goal to put the nail in the coffin in 2011. The US Open Cup win in 2012 was amazing but I still felt frustrated at the end of the season when Sporting Kansas City was bounced from the playoffs.

I wanted to break through that barrier and to finally reach the glory of a championship game. I was too young to truly appreciate those great 2000 and 2004 teams and seeing all of the talent Sporting KC had on the field falling just short the past couple of years led to an ill-placed frustration with the man in charge.

This year it was more of the same. The early knockout of the US Open Cup from Orlando City, falling one point short of the Supporters Shield and some noteworthy upsetting games did nothing to quell this irrational frustration I had with Vermes. This continued all the way through the first leg against New England where I believed that Sporting Kansas City had lost solely because of Vermes' lineup.

My attitude changed in the second leg. His lineup was perfectly matched to the New England lineup and his subs in the second half I believe won the game for Sporting Kansas City. Take a look at how the Revolution defense had trouble adjusting from the style of Dwyer to the precision of Bieler, who's precision scored the game winner. I had called for a Feilhaber sub way earlier in the second half but it was his tenacity that got the ball to Bieler to score the game-winner.

Vermes deserved credit for that win, he made all the right moves. It continued in the second leg when his lineup in Houston did its job in getting the game back to Kansas City level. Then, Sporting knocked off the Dynamo in the second leg, getting Sporting KC to the MLS Cup. It felt like a burden had been lifted and that Sporting KC had finally broken that barrier that had plagued, not only Sporting KC but Kansas City as a sports city. This is what the glory that had been promised by Robb Heinemann and Peter Vermes felt like.

The job had been done well by Peter Vermes and today is the day I eat my crow. I have not always agreed with Vermes as manager but he did the job he was hired to do. He has utilized the talent on the field and has gotten Sporting KC to the MLS Cup. Not only that, but he helped lead them to a strong regular season that ensured that they would host the MLS Cup. I've realized it's easy to criticize Vermes on a small sample size basis but when looking at the big picture and how far Sporting KC has come under his tutelage, I find that his record speaks for itself. Two Eastern Conference regular season titles, second place in the league twice, five playoff wins and a US Open Cup title are examples of a coach that knows what he is doing and a coach that knows how to utilize the talent Heinemann and him work together putting on the field.

Now we turn our eyes towards Saturday. For the first time in a couple of years my irrational skepticism is gone and I trust Peter Vermes to make the right calls in order for Sporting KC to win the MLS Cup. Peter Vermes is the man for the job and now he's one win away from doing what he was called upon to do. Can't argue with that.

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