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OPINION: Thank You Peter, But It’s Time to Go

Peter Vermes has been a huge part of Sporting KC’s history, but every chapter has an end, and it’s time for KC to go a new direction.



The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ‘The KC Soccer Journal.’ Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion.

Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park was the 903rd league game and 1,066 across all competitions for Sporting Kansas City. The club’s manager, Peter Vermes has been in charge for about 54 percent of those games over his over fifteen plus years in charge of the club. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been regularly thinking of a quote from The Dark Knight movie; “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” After a lackluster 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps, it feels like it is time to say goodbye to Peter Vermes as the club’s manager, chief soccer officer, and whatever other offices he holds within the club.

Since the start of the 2022 season, Sporting KC has averaged 1.14 points per game (PPG) over the last eighty-three league games. In that stretch of time, only five teams in the league have a worse PPG record. Of the ten teams with the lowest PPG since the start of the 2022 season, Kansas City is one of two teams still with the same head coach who started the 2022 season along with Atlanta United.

Vermes is the most decorated coach in Sporting’s history, winning three US Open Cup’s and an MLS Cup during his tenure as manager. He’s a Sporting Legend and his name will forever be on the stadium as such. That doesn’t mean that he should be immune from the axe when times go bad and remain bad.

Over the past number of years Sporting’s play on the field has slid and the results haven’t been there. After a 2-1 playoff loss to Real Salt Lake in the 2021 playoffs, KC has not been one of the league’s better teams, the numbers back that up. The success in the second half of the 2023 season masked a number of issues with the team, and unfortunately the team didn’t do enough to address it in the offseason.

In 2022 and 2023 there was an excuse, the team was without two Designated Players, Gadi Kinda and Alan Pulido. They both missed all of 2022 and at the start of the 2023 season were still working themselves up into game fitness after a year off the field. Sporting responded and went on a very good run that allowed them to make the 2023 playoffs, get past the San Jose Earthquakes and St. Louis City before falling to the Houston Dynamo.

How did KC respond heading into 2024? They lost one of their DPs as Gadi Kinda returned to Israel. They rebuilt for 2024 by adding Memo Rodriguez, Zorhan Bassong, Alenis Vargas, and Ryan Schewe. Those are the only four players who were new to the Sporting roster in 2024, with three of them having appeared for the first team in 2024. The rest of the roster was returning talent, all a year older, giving Sporting one of the oldest rosters in the league. So far in 2024, they’ve fielded the four oldest starting 11s in the league.

Now, whether part of that was because the club was in the process of hiring a sporting director and were planning to hit the summer window harder, or whether it was an attempt to “run it back” based on the thought/hope that they could maintain the run of form they had in the second half of 2023 is a question for another time. As things stand though the team isn’t performing and hasn’t been for a while. For the second time in the last two years, KC has a winless run of at least nine games. It’s good to have consistency and know that a string of bad results isn’t going to end things, but over the past two and a half years there seems to be more than enough data that things for Sporting aren’t trending in the right direction.

If Sporting does make a decision to move on, it’s not a bad time to do it, as there’s the ability for a major roster overhaul this winter. Currently there are four players set to be out of contract at the end of the season, there are then another fourteen who have options for the 2025 season that a decision would need to be made on. Of those are all three of KC’s current U22 players. KC’s three current DPs (Alan Pulido, Nemanja Radoja, and Daniel Salloi) are all under contract through 2025 at least, but two could be bought down to bring in another DP or two. It would be a chance for a new coach (assuming they’re in place before roster decisions are required) to immediately remake the roster the way that they want.

At some point the decision has to be made to just move on and go in a different direction. And that time certainly appears to have come for Sporting KC and Vermes.

For the longest time I’ve maintained that Vermes’ job was safe as long as the players didn’t quit on him, ala the Seattle Sounders quitting on Sigi Schmid in July of 2016 in KC. I’m still not convinced the team has quit on him.

Would removing Vermes change the direction of the club immediately? Probably not. Will it be painful? Probably. Vermes is so ingrained, so interwoven, within the club from the top down that there will certainly be some pain points in the transition. But it feels like it’s time to just rip the band-aid off to try something new. Will it be better? There’s no guarantee, but it’s time for a change. The results though aren’t there and at some point, blame has to fall on the guy who’s leading the players. I appreciate everything that Vermes has done with this club, but it’s time to move on.

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