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How Far Down Can Sporting KC Go?

Sporting Kansas City just keep floundering in MLS play. They haven’t won since March and so much is wrong. Let’s do some analyzing.

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Credit: Seven One Mag

For the Glory KC is back with the 84th episode of the show!

[Apologies for the audio issues on my mic this episode. Mother’s Day was probably a bad day to record and when we rush we make mistakes. I’ll own that one! — Chad]

Sporting Kansas City just keep tumbling. They are down to 12th place in the Western Conference, just a single point ahead of 13th and 14th placed San Jose Earthquakes and the Portland Timbers. They got there with a 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.

Sheena and I set out to try and figure out what is wrong. I have a theory that they actually need to go away from the 4-2-3-1 formation and back to the 4-3-3. Folks get tired of that formation, but the 4-2-3-1 is not working! They haven’t won a single game in five tries rolling it out. Let’s recap:

  • We first saw it against the LA Galaxy and blew a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2
  • Then again against Portland and blew a 3-0 lead to tie 3-3
  • Lost to Inter Miami in this formation
  • Tied St. Louis 3-3
  • Lost to Minnesota United

We talked about the outstanding performances of Memo Rodriguez and a lot of middling performances all around the roster. Peter Vermes agreed in his post-match press conference. There was a lot of discussion around a “change in mentality.” Vermes said, “its’ not all the guys, it’s quite of few of the guys though.” He also called the Houston goals “atrocious” and “amateur, at best.” And above all else, he said a lot of players lacked effort. There was talk in benching players, suffering and so many other topics in a short seven-minute presser. Daniel Salloi gave some tough interviews in the lockerroom too.

We try to figure out who lacked effort and who is going to get benched, and there are a lot of potential candidates. We also discuss briefly the 120-minute win over Union Omaha to advance in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup to face FC Tulsa in the Round of 16.

Thankfully, we still have the Kansas City Current. While they only mustered out a draw Wednesday on incredibly short rest and travel nightmares against Vlatko’s former team, the Seattle Reign, they won again on Sunday against the North Carolina Courage.

In the Digital Crawl, we hit a few topics, including:

  • Espinoza and Zusi are back… sort of.
  • SKC are the 41st most valuable franchise in the world
  • And a bunch of other stuff covered in this story
  • Bia, Chawinga and DiBernardo earn NWSL honors
  • Neil McGuinness is the new LAFC Technical Director (but SKC only could find Gavin Wilkinson?)
  • 14-year-old Cavan Sullivan is one to watch

Here is a rundown of topics (and approximate start times):

  • Northern Lights – 1:38
  • Sporting KC lost at home again – 5:20
  • Vermes post-game Presser after Houston – 21:59
  • SKC (barely) advance in the US Open Cup – 43:37
  • KC Current have another solid week – 50:11
  • Digital Crawl – 1:04:01

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Sporting KC at Austin FC, Saturday, May 18th @ 7:30 PM CST
  • KC Current vs. Racing Louisville, Saturday, May 18th @ 8:30 PM

Spotify took away our ads, so we turned on “Listener Support.” Don’t feel obligated, but if you have a few spare bucks and are a fan of the pod, we’d appreciate your donation.

Big thanks to Splitter Conspiracy (listen to them here) for our theme music made with the permission of the KC Cauldron.


You can find For the Glory KC wherever you get your podcasts. Just search “For the Glory KC” and be sure to subscribe! Here are some helpful links:

Spotify | Apple | Amazon | iHeartRadio | Castbox | Rephonic

Be sure to like and subscribe to the podcast. Five-star ratings and reviews will help others find the pod. On Spotify you can review on the mobile app by clicking the three dots. On Apple Podcasts, it’s much easier. If it’s not quite five-star worthy yet, feel free to let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@PlayFor90 or @ForTheGloryKC). Sheena essentially runs our FTG Twitter, so that’s a great way to get her takes.

Also, you can find the podcast on all the social media platforms: @ForTheGloryKC on Twitter, Instagram, Threads and Facebook or you can email us at ForTheGloryKC at Gmail.


Transcript from Revoldiv available after about 24 hours. Click the link, then search “For the Glory KC” for a free transcription (or you can transcribe any podcast you’d like).

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skcfanipromise

When Salloi says “year after year,” he’s referring to Vermes. When he says to get rid of players with poor mentality, he’s referring to Vermes.

I have no doubt, and neither should you.

Last year, it was Vermes versus the fans. This year it’s Vermes versus the players. Next year will be Vermes versus ownership.

Winning fixes everything, but not resentment, which is everywhere and growing. A summer signing is just quadrupling down in a losing position. It’s just gauze hiding from sight the gangrene.

skcfanipromise

signs you’re vermes out, and maybe don’t know it. feel free to add some. i could go on and on. bulleted lists don’t seem to be working, so here’s a long comment:

…you sense every set piece goal conceded beforehand
…you’re out of individual players to blame
…JFR deserves better has crossed your mind repeatedly
…central to your pro-vermes opinions is the word ‘leash’
…a belief that a summer signing will fix everything
…SKC down a goal almost had you turning the game off
…you applaud Vermes for using subs
…SKC games require stoic determination to watch
…defeating st.louis in the playoffs last year was worth it
…’there’s a lot of soccer left in the season.’
…’who will replace him’ is your argument for not firing him
…the 60th to 80th minutes terrify you

Last edited 4 days ago by skcfanipromise
skcfanipromise

in my attempt to fix formatting / bulleted list, i fully* disabled my adblocker, and discovered how impossible it is to use this website without it on.

*i try to whitelist unobtrusive ads

Last edited 4 days ago by skcfanipromise
Shawn

My 2 cents:

Obviously we do not have much insight to what goes inside the locker room or the practice field and so we just speculate. With that being said… It would be good for the ownership group to figure out Vermes role. Is he coach, Is He the Sporting Director or is he something else with the club. He signed a 4 year contract. Most likely when he will retire (is my thoughts)… But his role needs to change. I cant imagine what coaching the last few years would be like. To handle the major respoinislbity of Sporting Director and Head Coach has to be difficult.. to carry that repsonislity (not that it gives a pass) but just super hard.

The coaching staff put out a game plan. The players do need to implement the plan. To be able to carry the responsibility of what has been given to you. I give him credit for trying a new formation, he has been subbing more… So he is willing to at least try somethings. But man it has been another frustrating and rough season.

I agree with Salloi but, in my opinion, he has been really non existent this year. He had a great assist with Pulido the other night and then had a good goal on Saturday but over all these past 2 years for sure he has not stepped up into the role of DP by any means. He really needs to do a look in the mirror on his performances this seasons and last.

I do wonder tho, if players are taking responsibility for their game play. They all have annalitics on how they play for a match. As I heard on the For the Glory podcast it just seems like people are slow and not really putting forth the effort. I mean we really have some slow people on the team. It is wild to see how they seem to be a step behind.

Memo has been a fantastic add to the organziation. He was a joy to watch on Saturday. His effort was fantastic. Thommy has been great to have on the team as well. Davies has earn his spot IMO (albeit this last match wasn’t a great one).

It will be interesting to see what comes of teh rest of the season. Hopefully they can start moving in the right direction again.

Last edited 4 days ago by Shawn
Shawn

On a different Note:

Here is Vermes actually resposiblity according to the Sporting Website:

PETER VERMES oversees all soccer operations for Sporting Kansas City, including head coaching duties, roster management, scouting and oversight of Sporting Kansas City II and Sporting KC Academy. 

With that being said… Man really needs to hire someone to overtake at least one of the jobs to help him focus a bit more. I can only imagine the stress all that has.

KCOutsider

This is exactly why I don’t buy the Vermes defenders arguing that he had nothing to do with the Wilkinson hire.

I also recently saw a comment on reddit that really struck me, pointing out that SKC has made no further move to rehire the Wilkinson position, despite apparently having a consultant give them a whole list of vetted high-quality candidates (even if they ignored them all the first time). I honestly hadn’t really thought about that but now it seems glaring.

Shawn

Great points. So true.

kcrews123

Yeah the whole “we’re hiring Gavin to take some responsibility off of Vermes” was a facade so they could say”look, we tried”. They knew they were hiring a yes-man, and I have a hard time believing that Vermes wasn’t a key player in hiring him

KCOutsider

Yep, and they can hardly claim “oh, we’re now deep in the season and it’s too busy” when they’re trying to hang their hat on “wait for a big move in the summer transfer window” and the whole purpose of this hire is to help PV take care of things like that.

ar_jhawk

It’s clear they need to hire more than 1 person. I mean, that’s 6 jobs listed. Some would report to others, but they need 6 different people focusing on those 6 different things.

Mister Murse

Deviation from the system will be difficult. The system removes all matters of creativity and organic chemistry through play by inscribed patterns of movement. When the whole team operates at 100% and adheres not only to the system, but the speed required for the system to be effective then this team is unstoppable.

HOWEVER – we aren’t 100%. We are too slow, too old, not in shape enough. Lacking in the vision and skills to execute the system when we are missing one or two key pieces (Walter, Thommy….). The problem is when we need to deviate from the system, we have hammered out all matters of creativity and organic soccer – which is why we couldn’t handily beat a 3rd division team.

We get new signings that always look amazing the first 1/2 to full season of play. Then they fade in performance when they stop playing their soccer and start playing Vermes ball. Only certain people are permitted to deviate (pulido and kinda come to mind). Everyone else must play vermes ball, even if they are playing outside of their comfort zone/position/style. Hell, we used Croizet as a damn midfielder when he is 100% a striker and wonder why he didn’t succeed.

We need to deviate from vermes having totalitarian control – but it will be painful as we have now become dependent upon the system.

kcrews123

I’ve been saying this the last few seasons. Players have a half-to-full season before Vermes’ system neutralizes their “flar”, and they become another cog in the machine that is Vermes’ creation.

Steve

As of last week, I was still defending the value of Vermes as an experienced coach and said the known of him was better than the unknown of a coaching change.

Watching the two games this week has pushed me across the line of joint the Vermes out cohort.

The reason is not the results themselves, but watching the players on the field. they don’t appear to know what to do. especially the heavily rotated squad in omaha. The value of an experienced coach is supposed to be that the players can understand their responsibilities, and that their responsibility match up with their talant. This is not what the team looks like

Kooth

Chad and Sheena, you are correct that effort is important, but any effort that is not addressing the root issue in some way is wasted effort. And sometimes the effort can make the problem worse, like spinning out your tires when stuck in the mud. I am so ready for the PV era to end.

Mister Murse

Yes. Salloi pointing out that this is a recurrent problem points to an organizational issue inadvertantly is about as blatant as you can get.

therogueanalyst

Long time lurker, first time commenter.

First thought when I hear “how far down can SKC go?” is “did they announce pro/rel?” – but that’s a different sort of going down, I guess.

The state of Vermes at Sporting reminds me a lot of the end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal – namely, the game has changed over the years and nobody thought to tell them (or they believed that they knew better), they remain in charge through a sort of institutional inertia, and fans spend several years agonizing over when they finally give up the reins. In modern football, this sort of a tenure is unprecedented – the closest I can think of in Europe’s big leagues currently is Christian Streich at SC Freiburg, but a) he took over Freiburg a couple years into Vermes’ stint at Sporting, and b) he’s leaving at the end of the year.

At a certain point, it seems patently obvious that Vermes needs to give up either the front office or sideline duties, but that neither is likely happening voluntarily on their own (which is where the quashed Wilkinson hire was interesting – it came across as installing a fall guy to buy the person in charge more time, but the expectation was that it would buy a couple of years when it didn’t even get to two weeks). And therein lies the paradox that continues on…

luke arena

Which of you said SKC is upper middle class of MLS. WTF are you smoking? We’re Chicago. The bottom of the league.

SKC
2022 – 1.18 ppg
2023 – 1.29 ppg
2024 – 0.92 ppg

Chicago 
2022 -1.15 ppg
2023 -1.18 ppg
2024 -0.83 ppg 

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