Shout out to my buddy Mitch for a hint at the title on Twitter. He’s a good follow, doesn’t tweet too much but usually good takes or RTs.
Just a few hours ago, Sporting Kansas City lost unexpectedly to Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals. Fans are upset. They are sad. It definitely hurts. If you are just responding out of anger/sadness/etc., that you want Peter Vermes fired, I give you a pass. It’s hard to be rational when things go so very wrong.
This story is for all those who really want Peter Vermes to be fired. Like, really, really want him gone.
1. You are Spoiled
There are 27 MLS teams and only one gets to win every year. It’s really hard to win an MLS Cup. Sporting KC have won two in the 26 years of MLS play. Think of all the teams that have never won a trophy. Hell, I’ll list them for you: New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, NYCFC, LAFC, FC Dallas, FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, Austin FC, Inter Miami CF, Minnesota United, CF Montreal, Orlando City, Philadelphia Union and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
That’s 14 teams, over half the league, that have never won. Another six teams only have one. KC have two! Sure, some of them don’t have quite the history as others, but three of those teams that have never won (New England, NYRB and FC Dallas) are original teams.
2. PV is Damn Consistent
In 10 of the last 11 seasons, Sporting KC have made the playoffs. Admittedly, lots of teams get into the playoffs and that’s not the only measure of success. But only Seattle and RBNY have made it into more consecutive playoff appearances in recent seasons. Not only do they get into the playoffs, lately, they’ve been seeded high. This year they finished 3rd. They were 1st in 2020. Obviously 2019 they had a horrific year, but they were also first in 2018 too. 2017 and 2016 they were 5th both season and just 6th in 2015 and 5th in 2014. In 2013, their MLS Cup winning season, they were 2nd.
So actually, PV has gotten better in recent years. Do you really think SKC won’t be right there in 2022? Well they probably won’t if they fire PV... let’s continue.
3. Consider where this success is happening
This isn’t the NFL where the players go where they are drafted. Many international players don’t want to come to “Kansas.” Think of before this season. Sporting KC tried to sure up their potential offensive depth issues by signing former Monaco winger Samuel Grandsir. However, he turned them down because he didn’t want to come to MLS. Until he did just weeks later to join the LA Galaxy.
Now, I’m not saying Grandsir is the answer (though that speed would have been something to have off the bench). But he’s the latest (that we’ve even heard about) that turned down SKC only to pop up elsewhere in MLS. The fact that PV has built up the credibility to attract players like Johnny Russell, Alan Pulido, Remi Walter, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas or Ilie Sanchez means something.
4. Players Value Stability
Before Ilie joined SKC, he talked about coming to a team, then coaches changing and him falling out of favor. When he heard how long PV was the coach, that meant something. This is a story all over the world. Benny Feilhaber gave a similar story about some of his time in Europe.
Vermes is the longest tenured MLS coach and it’s not even close. Vermes has been coach since 2009. Next up is the Philadelphia Union’s Jim Curtain in 2014 followed by Brian Schmetzer in 2016.
Could Vermes be getting stale for players? Possibly. But players leave and want to come back when they see the grass isn’t greener. Johnny Russell just signed an extension. Old players come back to work for PV. The players seem to love Peter. For the often gruff exterior, I dare say he may be a players coach for most of the guys.
5. Other Teams Would Kill for PV
If SKC were dumb enough to fire Vermes (they aren’t), think of all the teams that would immediately line up to hire him. Teams that are in small markets like Kansas City would love this long-term success and consistency.
6. Who are They Going to Replace Him With?
For all the geniuses that want to fire PV, who are they going to get instead? The big time coaches aren’t coming here, and frankly I don’t think they’d have the success they do without being a market that is attractive to players. Bob Bradley just left LAFC for Toronto FC. Before that, his other MLS stops were Chivas, New York and Chicago. All big cities.
Maybe Brian Schmetzer? He’s a Seattle guy. He’s been a coach with the Sounders since 1994. Bruce Arena? All big cities (D.C., LA, New York and Boston). Maybe some ‘outside of MLS’ star coach? Most of those don’t seem to work out, and definitely more of them fail than succeed. Is there an outside of MLS coach with long-term success? Tata Martinez came in like fire but he’s gone and Atlanta outspend KC and are a worse team.
Now, is Peter perfect? Of course not. He should be criticized when he makes mistakes and I’ve been critical of his sub patterns (and I think justifiably) and even elements of his roster building (some of that is MLS limitations for spending). However, I’ll take a consistent team that may win over a team that is wildly up and down. Sure, it’s the hope that kills you, but I’d rather have hope. As a fan of lots of other teams that are consistently inconsistent, I’ll take this any day of the week. And just imagine how good this team can be if and when more of these young players start to hit. It took Gianluca Busio years to break into the lineup. There is a line of guys on the way that could emerge at any moment.
Continue to question what deserves to be questioned, but don’t forget how spoiled we’ve all been.