With Sporting Kansas City sitting in first place with a four-point cushion in MLS' Eastern Conference, the team announced Tuesday morning that it locked up coach and technical director Peter Vermes through the 2017 season. It's not a very surprising update from the club. While fans of the Royals and Chiefs complain annually about their teams' leadership, Vermes has quietly established himself as a calm, unifying force for Sporting since he took over his current role in 2009.
Under Vermes, who was a defender with the Kansas City Wizards during the team's 2000 run to the MLS Cup, Sporting has cultivated highly talented players over the last few years. He has coached midfielder Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler into U.S. Men's National Team-caliber players. (Check out Jonathan Bender's insightful Pitch profile of Besler from April.)Earlier this year, Vermes was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The coach has led Sporting to first place in the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons. Although, those campaigns each ended with disappointing losses in the Eastern Conference Championship round of the playoffs. Vermes also helmed SKC to the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, in a thrilling penalty kick victory over the Seattle Sounders, the three-time defending champions.
"We have an incredible ownership group. Their vision and follow-through on all the initiatives they bring to this organization is incredible," Vermes said in a statement released by the team this morning. "Their passion for what this club is and for making it happen is the reason we sit here today as one of the best organizations in Major League Soccer. I'm excited to be a part of it and to continue helping to grow this organization. It's a proud moment for me."
Robb Heineman, CEO of the club, said in the statement, "We love that Peter has always been a long-term thinker and I believe the building blocks around turning this into a great organization long-term are in place. Having another four years to advance this cause is going to be very valuable to the team. We love that Peter has the commitment that he has to this city, this organization and to the development of the players."
The rest of the month is going to remain busy for Sporting KC, as the team hosts the MLS All-Star Game on July 31. The best MLS players will take on Italian team AS Roma at Sporting Park with three Sporting players - Besler, Zusi and defender Aurelien Collin - on the MLS side.