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Old 01-23-2014, 11:07 AM   #55
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Vermes candid on 2014 campaign during special pre-season edition of Sporting KC Show

Peter Vermes will board a flight bound for Tucson, Ariz. before sunrise on Thursday as Sporting Kansas City officially opens their 2014 pre-season just six weeks after the team celebrated its MLS Cup championship in front of a capacity crowd at Union Station.

And exactly six weeks from Thursday, Vermes and his Sporting Kansas City squad will be back at Kansas City International Airport en route to Seattle for the opening game of the 2014 MLS season. So it seemed fitting -- at the mid-point of a 13-week span between the team's climatic 2013 finale and the highly-anticipated 2014 opener -- that Vermes joined The Sporting KC Show on Wednesday for a wide-ranging discussion with Sports Radio 810 WHB hosts Dave Borchardt and Andy Edwards.

On winning MLS Cup...
To me, it was more a culmination of a lot of people within the organization having a vision and seeing it through. Accomplishing that and more importantly rewarding our ownership group especially; not only for the financial commitment, because I think that's the one that is most obvious to everyone, but more importantly how committed they are to the organization and how involved they are...They care about the ultimate success of our organization not just in the short term, but in the long term. And they realize that the foundation has to be built to achieve that and be competitive year after year after year. It was great for them and obviously for our players, as well. It was something that we've been talking about and building a culture over the years. For them to get rewarded because of that commitment was also a really special moment.

On the challenges ahead...
We had a good year last year. We accomplished some important goals that we wanted to: winning MLS Cup, qualifying for the knockout stage of CONCACAF Champions League. With that being said -- it's a great accomplishment and we've done it -- but that year's over. We're into a new season. It's going to be very difficult, that next round of CONCACAF Champions League based on the fact that we're going to be playing against Cruz Azul who's in the mid-point of their season. They'll be in form, we'll be just starting our season and trying to make sure that we're peaking at the right time. But to be able to do that, it's not easy when you're starting a season. You're just getting game fit, you're trying to reach your form and you're trying to do that over the course of a 34-game season. For us, we're going to have to accelerate our pre-season more than we normally would. We're going to have to get more involved in the style of play and the things that we want to do very early on in the beginning stages of our pre-season. So that when we hit the first game of the season, which is against Seattle away from home, we've got to be playing. I'm not going to say we'll be firing on all cylinders but our fitness level and our style of play has to be something that has to be at a much more accelerated place than it has been in the past from the start of the season.

On Chance Myers being out of contract...
It's a simple one. We want him to come back. We've made him an offer. It's now between him and his agent. We're just waiting for their response. It's always a tough thing when you come to these situations where you've found some success over the last so many years. Players, based on their performances, want to continue to make more money and I understand that. But when you're in a salary cap, there's only so much to go around. We're at a place where I think we've made a fair offer, I really do. Now it's just a matter of if they want to accept it and he wants to stay here. We'll see where that goes. The one thing that has always been the case and will continue to be the case with this club is you've seen players come and go. There's been a lot of players that have moved on, some very good ones obviously. To name a few, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara, Julio Cesar and now Jimmy Nielsen. And as players move out, there are other players that we've been working with and we've been trying to get ready for their opportunity. If it doesn't work, then we'll have to move on to the next guy and we'll have to make that guy work. It's unfortunate, but as I said, we'd like to have him back. Hopefully we can work out the deal. I think we'll find over the next couple of weeks if that's going to become a reality or if we're both going to move in separate ways.

On having five players with the U.S. MNT...
It's flattering and I think it should be flattering for the club. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work on a lot of different levels for our players to get there. I think the biggest thing is that when I took over, I made it very clear to the guys that one thing to find success is always going to be one center and the center is always going to be the team. The team is always going to come first. And I believe that all awards and accolades, increases in salary and everything else all comes from the team. If the team's successful, then opportunities start to present themselves. Interestingly enough, in 2000 when the team that I played on here in Kansas City won the MLS Cup as well, that following January we had five players that were also invited into the January Camp. It's interesting how when your team finds success, many of your players start to find it as well. It's a testament to the work ethic and the progression a lot of these players have made, but at the same time, it has a lot to do with the success of the team.

On the goalkeeping depth chart...
Eric has really paid his dues. He's been a solid citizen for the club for 8-9 years now. He has definitely perfected, I think, his craft. I think he's a goalkeeper that is ready and waiting to take on the opportunity to be the No. 1. He's worked extremely hard. He has been a guy that has been very open-minded and that has learned by the people that have been in front of him. I think all of those things bode well for a guy that's going to find success in that position. I have a lot of confidence in him. I think that he is incredible from a distribution perspective, a very good shot stopper, has great range across the goal, obviously with his height and athleticism, I think he does really well at coming out on crosses. I think he deserves this opportunity based on how hard he has worked and how patient he has been and how he has progressed as a goalkeeper. As much as there's always competition in all of the positions, I do believe that he should at least get the benefit of the doubt to be the No. 1, go ahead and go with the position and play well. He definitely has the full confidence of the staff and I think all of us feel very comfortable with him. At the same time, competition is important. Andy Gruenebaum was brought in, as well. He's a guy with a lot of experience. But he's also a great team guy. I know that he'll fit in well with the way that our culture is within our team on the field and also within our locker room. I think that Jonathan Kempin has been progressing, as well. I think we have a very solid core when it comes to the goalkeeper position at the moment.

On additions to the midfield...
We definitely want to add depth. You saw that we obviously drafted two more players in the middle of the midfield. We'll probably add another person here in the next coming weeks in that area of the field, as well. Because we just think that's an area we have got to maintain our strength in because that's our wheelhouse. As we move forward, we're going to need as many bodies as we can and obviously depth in those positions as we move through all the different competitions that we are in this year.

On negotiations with Michael Bradley...
I think MLS is proving that it's not what a lof of people have been saying about us for years. That is we're a retirement league. You're starting to see a lot of players in their prime come to this league and be a part of it through transfers or through DP situations. There's a lot of that going on and I think as people continue to maybe criticize or be a little bit negative around our league, what happens is we just keep passing those people by. From that point of view, I don't really pay too much attention to it because I think we're a league that is up and coming. We've continued to push the needle up and I think we'll continue to do that for many years to come. In regards to us, we were absolutely 100% involved in that opportunity to try to get Michael Bradley to come to Sporting. It was a player that we went after extremely heavily. There's not a lot of players that I personally would put my reputation behind but I think he's a fantastic player. I think he's a great professional. There's no doubt in my mind that he would have fit really well into our team. But sometimes, in these deals, they go a different way. It is what it is at the end of the day. We'll be fine because of it and we'll keep working. I think we still have a very good team without him.
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