Part 1 of media availability with Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes.
Vermes spoke with media via video call today and discussed the MLS is Back tournament and several other subjects. MLS is Back officially kicks off on July 8th but Sporting KC’s first game is not until July 12th.
Some teams are already arriving in Orlando. The San Jose Earthquakes were the first team to check into “the bubble.” Sporting KC does not plan to leave home until July 5th, just in time to make the required seven day lead time before their first match.
“Our objective was that it was more important to get down there as late as possible,” Vermes told media. “Because why would you think you’re going home early? We think we’re going to stay late, so it was better for us to be at home longer.”
Vermes will take as many players as are available to Orlando, only leaving behind players recovering from injury. “There may be some guys coming off an injury that I may leave back, just because I want to take all healthy bodies down there,” Vermes explained. “We’re playing a lot of games in a short period of time; the staff’s concentration is going to have to be on the guys getting ready for games. It’s not going to be rehabbing guys so whoever we all feel will not have an impact in playing we’ll probably leave behind.”
One train of thought was whether Vermes would take young players or leave them at home to perhaps play with SKC II. When asked which young players he was taking to Orlando he left little doubt, “All of them, because they’re all healthy.”
There are reports that MLS is opening a two-day transfer window before the tournament. A few teams have announced or been linked to additional signings but Vermes stated he has no plans to do anything in that window. He may use some of the financial relief from Felipe Gutierrez being out for the rest of the year at a later point, if there is a later part of the season and additional transfer window.
Not exactly a new signing but Vermes confirmed that Winston Reid has rejoined Sporting Kansas City. Reid was in England during the lock down and there had been concerns that West Ham United might recall him off loan as they fight to stay out the relegation zone. But Reid has not only arrived in Kansas City, he trained with the team on Thursday. Reid passed all the required tests, in fact he has taken three of them before practicing.
Speaking of testing
Vermes confirmed that no Sporting Kansas City players or staff have tested positive, “I can say that no, we have not had any positive tests yet. And that’s a lot of people.”
Vermes credited the players’ commitment to following the safety protocols not only in training but in everyday life. “When you think of the everyday life of any of us, if you’re going to your work and then you go home , that’s one thing, but you still have to grocery shopping. You still have to do other things. The guys are doing those things and so far, so good.”
“But you’ve also got to keep your guard up,” Vermes continued. “I’ve been very adamant about that with the guys in saying, ‘Listen, you guys have worked really hard and we only have a short period of time left, so let’s make sure that we continue to be vigilant and just being smart.’ The guys have done a good job. I’m not surprised. The guys understand what we’re trying to do. They’re committed. They want to play. They want to get back to their profession. They realize that they’ve put all this work in up until now, they want to get back to playing some games.”
Several MLS teams have announced players having tested positive, the Orlando Pride had to withdraw from the NWSL tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive [Editor: It appears some of those tests may have been false positives]. Vermes is aware the chances are someone will test positive somewhere along the line but feels good about how they have planned and organized.
“I’m not naïve to think that everything is going to be perfect, because it’s not,” Vermes stated. “It’s more of us making sure and we’ve done a lot of other things behind the scenes, tracking the guys, knowing which teams they play on, we’ve spread the guys out so they’re consistently in the same locker rooms so if a guy was to get sick we would know who was in his locker room with him and test those guys right away. There’s been a lot of thought into it. We don’t want it to happen but let’s be realistic, it’s probably going to happen and when it does, we want to be in a good position to control it and make sure it doesn’t spread all over the place.”
COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in a number of states have been climbing, including Florida. When Vermes was asked if he had any fear or trepidation about going to Florida with all the rising numbers, he responded, “For me, zero.”
“The way that we’ve been going about our business up until now has been very good. I think it’s going to continue when we get down there. I’ve gone through all of the protocols they’re going to have down there. If you read through it, you would probably say it’s over the top, but it’s obviously necessary at this time. I feel very comfortable with the protocol and we’ll be in a really good place,” Vermes added.
Vermes spoke more about the tournament itself and that will be in part 2.