On the second ever episode of The Call Up podcast with Susannah Collins and Jill Sakovits, the ladies had Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes on for a chat. Peter talked about a lot of interesting topics but the biggest thing that jumped out was Sporting KC’s pursuit of some pretty big stars.
Namely, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Giovani dos Santos. They join winger Romain Alessandrini as another member of the LA Galaxy that ultimately passed on Kansas City to head to Los Angeles.
“Ibrahimovic,” Vermes started, “we had actually, through someone in our club, talked to his agent but the financials [were] just something that we couldn’t have and wouldn’t have done at the time.”
Ultimately Zlatan joined the Galaxy and played for a stunningly low $1.5 million Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract last season. Obviously he was worth more than that and assuredly asked for more from SKC. He has since become a Designated Player (DP) in a deal that forced LA to buy out the contract of dos Santos (which was valued at $6 million in 2018). The 2019 MLS salary data hasn’t been released but Zlatan will likely be one of the highest paid players in MLS.
As for Gio dos Santos, he was a target of Sporting KC as well.
“Before the LA Galaxy got Giovani dos Santos, we were interested in Gio,” said Vermes. “But Gio didn’t want to come to Kansas City.”
In an interview The Blue Testament did with Vermes in the preseason he indicated this is a repeated issue.
“They don’t know where [Kansas City] is, what it is, they think people are riding horses. They really do. Now, no problem if I can get a player here on a recruiting trip, then it’s totally different. I can sell a player in two seconds. But, the other side of it is, most players when they want to come to MLS, they’re thinking New York, they’re thinking California, West Coast. That’s what they are thinking.”
Vermes echoed a similar sentiment to Collins and Sakovits.
“Sometimes we feel that they’re just great players but they don’t fit us, sometimes we can’t afford them, sometimes they don’t want to come and sometimes we’re lucky enough to get someone that we like, they want to come here and we can afford it.”
And most of the time, Sporting Kansas City can afford it. In part due to one of their billionaire owners Cliff Illig. Zlatan is probably an exception and as exciting as he would be to have, his antics don’t line up with the values that most associate with the midwest. He’s currently serving a two-game suspension for grabbing NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson by the throat.
Vermes on Nemeth
Another interesting thing that came up in the interview was when Vermes said, “I saw [Nemeth] when he was 18-years-old.” He said that he watched him live and in-person and wanted to bring him to KC all the way back then. Nemeth is currently 30 so that was 12 years ago.
Vermes on Feilhaber
Peter had quite a few quotes about strong personalities when talking about Zlatan and of course new (re)acquisition Benny Feilhaber. He had some pretty nice things to say about Benny as he indicated, “[Benny] is one of the most technical american soccer players we’ve ever produced.”
The thing that jumped out to me the most was that he envisioned Feilhaber as a future member of his staff. If the recent interviews with Benny are any indication, he and his wife really love Kansas City so maybe his next move will be to the bench as a staff member.
Other Interesting Quotes
A few more lines from Vermes seemed worth sharing.
- “I would always choose a player with a really strong personality.”
- “It’s the tough moments when you need strong personalities.”
- “I knew from six-years old that it’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to play soccer.”
The Call Up
If you haven’t heard The Call-Up, and frankly I hadn’t head it until this Vermes interview, it’s worth a listen. If nothing, for this fantastic Peter Vermes interview. The ladies discuss their nervousness the first time they met Vermes (I’ve been there, I get it). But they mention and I can echo, that Vermes is a fantastic interview and he really makes your job easier as the interviewer.
A few other subjects in the interview:
- Player Acquisitions
- Benny Feilhaber
- Big Personalities
- Watching Hungary as a child (Jill’s Grandfather is Hungarian too)
- Parenting style versus coaching style
- Talk on other MLS coaches