KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Peter Vermes is the longest tenured head coach in Major League Soccer, and Sporting Kansas City’s win on Sunday over the Seattle Sounders came on the day he hit his 10-year anniversary as the manager of Sporting.
It’s been a tenure filled with many more ups than downs while Sporting KC as a club have carved out a spot as perennial contenders, accumulating numerous deep playoff runs and four major trophies along the way.
Vermes, a player in Kansas City between 2000-02, had been operating as the technical director of the team starting in 2006, and stepped into the coaching role in 2009, forever changing the culture and the trajectory of the club. However, at multiple stops, Vermes’ coaching tenure almost never happened.
“When I had first started as technical director of the team, [team co-owner] Robb Heineman had asked me what job do I want,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com in an exclusive interview.
“At the beginning I said coaching and he said no, ‘Because I have to fire that guy.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you be in charge of the whole thing?’ So I thought about it and said, ‘OK.’ I was reserved to the idea that that’s what I was going to be doing, that was going to be my gig.”
Vermes operated as the technical director for two years, before another team in MLS came calling with a rather lucrative offer.
“I think one of the things that tells this story the best, in 2008 I was offered to go to the LA Galaxy,” Vermes said.
“No, to be the vice president of all their soccer operations worldwide, and then be the GM for the LA Galaxy,” Vermes said. “I chose not to do it. I know Mr. Anschutz [the Galaxy’s owner], I played for him in Colorado. He has a great family and is a great man and I had a great relationship with him, it was just that I had started something here and I wanted to see it through, and I believed in the vision and ideas that we had and what we wanted to become.”
A year later his opportunity to take over the team, in the original capacity he wanted to be in, presented itself. After filling in as the interim head coach for the remainder of 2009, Vermes was challenged by late Sporting KC owner Neal Patterson to fix the predicament Sporting was in, seemingly falling behind the wave of expansion teams joining the league.
“I’ll be honest, I took it a little bit personal and as a challenge more than anything else,” Vermes said. “I was thinking to myself, well I know what the vision is, I know what the philosophies are, so why don’t I just keep doing this? So that’s the reason why I wanted to keep doing it. I just didn’t feel comfortable at the time, being able to find somebody with the philosophies and the vision and everything that we wanted for the club.”
Challenge accepted. And as the story goes, it didn’t take long for Vermes and Co. to get going. After a successful rebrand and opening Children’s Mercy Park, they won the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, their first trophy since 2004.