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Sporting KC’s Cameron: From MLS league office to MLS club

Excitement, a new urgency, and time dominate in new role.

Sporting Kansas City’s “new” Assistant Director of Player Personnel is doing just fine, thank you. And what else would one expect from a person who spent eight years in the MLS League Office helping clubs with the management of their rosters and budgets as the Senior Manager in player relations, while also approving players acquisitions and trades and overseeing the League’s competition calendar?

Sure, Meghan Cameron is learning a different perspective now that she is plying her trade with a specific club. But it’s just one more step for the amiable Cameron in her impressive ladder. Hired in December of 2017, the New Jersey native’s efforts are focused on roster and budget management for Sporting KC and taking a role in scouting and player development for Sporting KC, Swope Park Rangers, and the Sporting KC academy.

Now that she has helped guide the club in many ways through two transfer windows, a busy preseason, and the ups and downs of a typical season (and gotten to know Kansas City), she sat down with The Blue Testament last Thursday to talk her transition to Kansas City, that work-life balance, the differences of working for a club as opposed to the league office, how it is working with former colleagues from her new position, new things she’s learned, and women just doing their job, while providing some insight into the player acquisition process and Sporting KC’s current focus.

The Blue Testament: What is your favorite thing about Kansas City?

Meghan Cameron: “Coming from the New York, I get teased quite a bit still, especially since [Technical Director and Team Manager] Peter [Vermes] and I are both from New Jersey and both went to Rutgers, and [Director of Player Personnel] Brian [Bliss] is from New York, upstate. The three of us are fast talkers and I’m fast everywhere I go; I’m a fast walker and all that stuff. But I love the community around Kansas City.

I love the idea that I can walk out of my apartment and people are wearing Sporting jerseys and you always see people in red on Sundays for the Chiefs. [Kansas City] is a smaller city than New York and I enjoy that. Obviously, I miss my home. I miss my family. But it’s been great so far. It’s been a really seamless transition for me. I never expected to have that moment, but I never had a moment of, ‘Crap. What did I do? What am I doing here?’ I’m looking forward to building myself in terms of exploring the city more.”

TBT: Do you have much free time?

MC: “I actually understand what work-life balance is now. I struggled with it for the first couple months, and the guys on the staff would tease me. ‘Meghan, just relax.’ Because [I didn’t know what to do]. I am home before 7:30 at night. I don’t know what to do with myself. That was a big adjustment going from this ‘go-go-go’ mentality. In the league office, I was there from 8 am to 7 pm every day on average. Now, here, there have been days when I’m able to leave by 4:30. It’s been a welcomed change.”

TBT: You processed International Transfer Certificates for eight years for all the clubs when with the league. And you pride yourself on always putting the club you worked with first. What have you learned from being on the club side of the player acquisition process through the primary and secondary transfer windows?

MC: “There isn’t anything that surprised me coming here. Working for the league, working for the clubs, you know what’s going on behind the scenes. But I think there was understanding the difference in how fast things change, the urgency by which the clubs need stuff versus the league. Now, on this side, to send in a request to the league – when I’m going back to my colleagues and friends – and to go, ‘I need this right away.’ They are like, ‘Well…’ And I’m going ‘No. I know what you are doing because I used to do that.’ From the league aspect, I would say, ‘I know it’s important. We are working on it,’ not really realizing the urgency and the meaning behind it in terms of getting a transfer fully executed and how quickly you need to turn that around in some cases.”

“I wish everybody in the league [could be at] a club at some point. I would have been a much better servant to the clubs had I seen this, knowing what goes on. It’s very easy to sit back at the league and say, ‘I’m still waiting on this’ or ‘I need this’ and pushing pressure on the clubs.”

TBT: What is the most difficult aspect of signing an international player?

MC: “Getting down to the real information, meaning that there are a lot of intermediaries out in the world. It’s finding out who the agent is, how much money we are talking about. A lot time it is [someone saying], ‘Well, I can get to him.’ [And I say] ‘Well, then, get to him.’ Trying to get the real information is a lot of work.”

Bliss and Vermes are the driving force behind scouting and player identification. Currently, Cameron, who played collegiately at Rutgers, is growing in her knowledge through more meeting-based integration. However, she has been active in other ways as she integrates into that aspect of her role.

MC: “Peter made the point to me saying, ‘I want you out on the training field. We know you played, the guys don’t.’ I get out [to the training pitch] three or four times a week for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the session. Same thing with Swope. I’ll spend a day at Swope about once a week and watch them train and stick around for an Academy training session so I understand the players that are coming through.”

TBT: What have you learned that Sporting Kansas City is looking for in players?

MC: “It’s been really exciting for me. I know the players characteristics that we are looking for [attacking-minded players with a strong work ethic, etc.], but to actually see it in real time and to be able to ask the questions of why this player is intriguing to us is pretty cool to me because that’s something I’m learning fast and furious.”

“We were out there visibly talking that we wanted to get a nine. For me to see it in real time and go, ‘This is what they mean by “certain” qualities.’ For me to go, ‘Why does he have it, and he doesn’t?’ The players seem very different to me, but in the eyes of what we are looking for it’s really interesting, especially since a lot of international agents are sending me random players to look at. [It’s] technical things, tactical things, just understanding their movements and their physicality and why someone being 6”1’ vs. 5’8” and which one is a better quality for our style of play. There are obvious answers as you look at how we play, and you think, ‘That makes sense,’ but to actually get down to the nitty gritty and understanding the whys behind it is something that I’ve been trying to pick their brains as we go through the process.”

You are just doing your job.

Yes, Cameron is distinct in that she is the first female on a technical staff in MLS. She’s worked for it. Whether she is male or female “doesn’t matter.” Recently, an all-female announcing team did a broadcast for FOX Sports – believed to be a first for the five big sports in the United States.

“[The all-female broadcast] is one of those things that it’s about time,” said Cameron. “It’s great. It should be celebrated, but, at the same time, it’s not a big deal. And I mean that very sincerely, that it shouldn’t be a big deal because they are just doing their job, and they are very good at it. You want to see more women in the workplace in the technical and sporting side of things and moving up and getting the same opportunities. If I’m going to be the first female on a technical staff in MLS, then I want the next one to be the next GM or president. Whether it is me or someone else, it doesn’t really matter.”

Clearly, Sporting KC’s focus is the next match day-by-day. In a broader sense, gaining a home playoff match and going on to win MLS Cup is, of course, the goal. Yet, the roster can be supplemented to aid until September 14th’s roster freeze via signing players currently out of contract.

TBT: Will there be any more player movement by September 14?

MC: “It’s probably a better question for Peter. But nothing now. We are really, really happy with the team and the way things are going. So a lot of the focus has shifted towards next year, especially given the way roster freeze works and having to get players out of contract. I don’t think it would necessarily be something we would be opposed to if something fell into our laps or something came across the table; then we would certainly make it work. But I don’t know that there is any direct need right now.”

“There’s focus on the [CONCACAF] Champions League for next year, too. Unfortunately, there are so many unknowns on that since we won’t know the draw until December, and we don’t know where we are going to be. But building the team to get us through champions league [is a focus]. You look at our bench in the last few matches and you think, ‘Wow. These guys would be starters in any other team.’ They are starters for us one weekend and not the next, depending on what Peter has to make decisions on. We certainly have the depth. Add a couple more puzzle pieces, and we hopefully do well in champions league.”

TBT: Thank you, Meghan, for taking time to talk with The Blue Testament.