When Sporting Kansas City extended Peter Vermes’ contract through 2019, it wasn’t just to lock in a successful coach that was getting interest from outside of Kansas City. To be clear, there was definitely interest in Vermes, reports linking him to the top U.S. spot and more than one vacancy around the league and even Europe have all circulated.
Beyond just locking him in to a longer contract, Sporting KC made a commitment and investment to continue his vision for the club. Vermes has had a guiding hand in seeing Sporting KC grow from a franchise that was barely surviving to one of the model franchises in the league. While Vermes will be quick to point out that it was not just him, there is a little doubt that Vermes and Sporting Kansas City share the same DNA at this point.
The extension lets Vermes and the rest of club focus on continuing to build the organization. Vermes won an MLS cup as a player with Kansas City (Wizards) in 2000 and since that time has helped soccer grow in the city. In the time that Vermes has been coach and technical director, Sporting KC has won two U.S. Open Cups and a MLS Cup. More importantly for the long term, the infrastructure and feeder system to the senior team continues to grow and get stronger.
“If in 2000 you would've interviewed me and asked if soccer is going to make it here in Kansas City I probably would've been extremely bearish on my statement. I would have tried to do everything I could to say yes but knowing full well that probably wasn't the case, probably being politically correct which I'm usually not,” Vermes laughed.
“Just because I've always had this passion about the growth of the game in this country and always knew that it had its place here. The fact that it has been growing the way it has but more importantly the success of this game just here in Kansas City has been tremendous, I’m very proud to be a part of it and I am very thankful for the opportunity to be given the chance to be part of it. I really don't take it for granted that I have been a part of it and more importantly I don't take it for granted that is so much more to accomplish. I think that's what gets me going every day is there is just so much more to do.
Keeping it going and growing…
“Continuity and consistency are sometime overlooked in sports,” Sporting KC President Jake Reid explained after the press conference. “I think for us to have that steady state there and especially in our organization where you have a guy in charge of the entire youth system up to the senior team you are talking about a ton of development and philosophy and if you change that there is going to be some time to adjust with someone new coming in. For us having a good working relationship with Peter is vitally important and something I don’t take for granted as well.
Vermes spoke about his extension letting him focus on the future, “If I wasn’t going to be here long-term, they (ownership) might be a little hesitant on some of the player acquisitions. If I bring them in and then someone else comes in and takes over, you wouldn’t know if they would want them. So for everyone in the organization, the answer is yes.”
“But I think the other is factor and it can never take away the fact that it is always going to be the success of the first team, but the fact that we have a chance to really continue to build on the other properties is a really important thing,” Vermes continued. “As I've stated many times before, that’s the future of this club, especially based on the marketplace.”
“We made some major investment into the USL team and also our Academy over the last 2 years now, the Academy first and then the Swope Park Rangers this past year.”
The Academy started in 2007 and has produced a few homegrown players for SKC already with some very promising talents in the pipeline also. Each year the Academy has performed better on the field and consistently expanded to include more levels. Sporting KC’s USL team went to the USL Final in their inaugural season and looks to be producing talent for the senior team already.
Vermes is happy with the progress but is not ready to say that all of the teams are where they need to be. “If it had already been up for 50 years we could say we are going to improve on this but we are not really improving on this since we just started this.”
“We are really establishing, it is more than just the foundation, the foundation for both properties is there. I think it is more establishing the process for those kids to develop and get through the system to get to the senior team and that one day, I don't know what that prediction is I wish I knew but it's really going to b one day the make up of our senior team will be from the majority of kids have gone through our Academy and Swope Park Rangers,” Vermes predicts.
While Vermes will say that the path is not where he wants it to be, he did say there are players moving through now. “I would say that you will see progress of signing players to each property from one to the other, you will already see that this year and that some of those announcements will be imminent,” Vermes stated.