Sporting Club announced on Tuesday the three newest members of Sporting Legends. Peter Vermes, Jimmy Conrad and the late Lamar Hunt will be inducted into the hall of honor during an on-field ceremony at Sporting Park during halftime of Sporting Kansas City's match against the Philadelphia Union on Friday.
An initiative launched in 2013, Sporting Legends pays tribute to club icons and provides a platform for inductees to re-engage with the local soccer community. Vermes and Conrad were selected among five finalists via a weighted vote through social media and SportingKC.com.
Sporting Kansas City's manager for the past six seasons, Vermes is the second-longest serving head coach in team history . He has won two major trophies - the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the 2013 MLS Cup championship - as well as two MLS Eastern Conference regular season titles (2011, 2012). He owns a .570 winning percentage as manager, best among any coach in club history.
As a player, Vermes was one of the team's most imposing defenders. He anchored the backline from 2000-2002, starting 78 games and garnering MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2000. Kansas City allowed just 29 goals in 32 regular season games that year with 17 shutouts en route to winning the MLS Cup and MLS Supporters' Shield. He earned 67 caps for the U.S. Men's National Team from 1988-1997 and competed at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. Vermes, the only person to win the MLS Cup as both a player and a coach with the same team, was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013.
"To be honored as a Sporting Legend is not only a proud moment, but a humbling accolade from the perspective of all the great people that have been involved in shaping this organization," Vermes said. "I thank all those that voted for me and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this organization for as long as I have. I have never and will never take the opportunity to represent Kansas City for granted."
Conrad made 204 appearances for the club from 2003-2010 and scored 17 goals, the most by a defender in team history. He guided Kansas City to the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and an appearance in MLS Cup later that season. The centerback was a six-time MLS All-Star (2004-2009), a four-time MLS Best XI selection (2004-2006, 2008) and the 2005 MLS Defender of the Year. He also captained the club from 2006-2009.
Conrad earned 27 caps for the U.S. Men's National Team, winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2005 and competing at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He won MLS Cup in 2001 with the San Jose Earthquakes.
"After plying my trade for eight years in a city that I came to know and love, I am incredibly honored to be recognized as a Sporting Legend," Conrad said. "I want to thank everyone along the way who gave me the confidence to become that caliber of player and I can't emphasize enough how much this induction means to me and my family."
Sporting Club selected Hunt as an honorary inductee for his pivotal role in founding Major League Soccer, the Kansas City professional soccer organization and pioneering the sport's growth in the United States. The Hunt Sports Group owned the Kansas City Wizards from their inaugural 1996 season until 2006, as well as the Columbus Crew (1996-2013) and Dallas Burn/FC Dallas (2003-present). A 1992 inductee into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Hunt was awarded their Medal of Honor in 1999. Clark Hunt, Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs, will attend Friday's ceremony on his father's behalf.
"My family and I are thrilled that my father Lamar will be inducted into the Sporting Legends hall of honor this weekend," Clark Hunt said. "Although he always shied away from individual accolades, I know that this honor would have been especially meaningful to him, because of his unwavering affection for the sports fans in Kansas City and his unbridled passion for the sport of soccer in the United States. We are very grateful to our partners and friends at Sporting KC for recognizing Lamar, and we look forward to the ceremony at beautiful Sporting Park this Friday."
In August 2013, Sporting Kansas City and Sporting Club selected Preki, Tony Meola and Bob Gansler as members of the inaugural class for Sporting Legends. For more information, visit SportingKC.com/SportingLegends.