Sporting KC Show Podcast: Peter Vermes on the state of Sporting and American soccer amidst unprecedented times

Running throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Sporting Kansas City Show is available on several podcast hubs including Spotify and iTunes as well as With Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, guest interviews and more.

Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes was the star of the Sporting Kansas City Show on Tuesday, joining hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost for a long-form interview that every fan will want to catch from start to finish.

Select remarks from Vermes can be found below as he discusses the unprecedented 2020 MLS season, the development of Sporting’s young players and the future of international soccer.

On Sporting’s busy stretch of 10 matches over the next five weeks…

There were teams that weren’t rotating their roster, and they’ve suffered a lot of injuries. There have been other teams that have been rotating their roster, they’re getting those players back and they’re probably stronger for it. There are all of these different situations with teams that haven’t played themselves out all the way through this season, so it’s going to be interesting to see where teams are physically at the end.

We’ve given really good experience to guys on the team who maybe wouldn’t have had that time if others weren’t out, but we had already started rotating the roster even when we were completely healthy. We knew that was an important aspect going forward in keeping guys fresh, and I think all of that is going to help us in the long run. It’s good to see that the majority of our guys are back now. Aside from Felipe Gutierrez, only Luis Martins and Matt Besler are out, and they aren’t long-term injuries. They’re short-term, so I feel pretty good about where we are from a physical perspective.

On the development of Academy products such as Gianluca Busio, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez and Jaylin Lindsey…

This has been a good experience for these young guys because they’ve had to take on real situations. It’s not like they’re going into the game and we’re winning 3-0 in the last five minutes of the game. Sure, those are minutes, but what about when you throw a kid in there and it’s 0-0 with 90 minutes to play and he’s got to help the team get a result? That’s a big difference.

Five years ago, we didn’t have Gianluca Busio. We didn’t have Jaylin Lindsey. They weren’t ready to do this. It takes time. Busio made his first appearance for us when he was 16. Graham Zusi made his first appearance for us when he was 22. There’s a big difference there. The experience that Zusi got was the same as Busio, but look at the age difference. Where Busio will be when he’s 21 or 22 will be a far-cry difference.

On the evolving process of developing young players within MLS…

If you’re going to have a system where you are going to integrate young players into your pro pathway—getting minutes and starting—if you’re going to do that, there’s a process and a foundation there that needs to be established to support that. I don’t know if anyone in MLS has that perfect foundation set up just yet. People are comparing (MLS) to leagues that are 100 years old. They’ve had decades of being able to establish foundational principles in their clubs. They have academies that are older than our professional clubs.

When we signed Busio and took him to our first preseason training, we had already established a plan for him for that year. By the time preseason was over with, I had to tear up the plan because he had overachieved it already. So we had to go back and write a new plan. That’s great—that’s what you want to have happen. It’s not as if we’re going to come out and say, “Okay, here’s the book on how to develop a player,” because each guy is different in how they absorb information.

There’s got to be a level of patience with development of young players, and I think you’re starting to see it pay off because of the investments that are being made. You’re also going to start seeing (players like) Reyna and McKennie and Pulisic here in this league, playing in MLS, and then potentially moving on or staying in the league. That’s what we’re all striving for.

On the challenge of playing road matches during the pandemic…

Flying in and flying out (the same day) can be tough. You fly in and the second you get to the hotel, you get ready for the game. As soon as the game is over, you have to get changed, showered, eat something and get back on the plane to go home. It’s a whole lot of things you wouldn’t even think about in a normal game environment. This has been a good learning process for the future, because I think we’ll be able to do a lot of regional games in the future just like we’re doing them now. It’ll also be interesting to see how we do games that are further away, like if we’re going to LA or Seattle.

On watching sports in the little free time he has during the season…

I will always watch the Chiefs, for sure. I have always been a fan of Andy Reid’s. I think that his consistency is excellent. His preparation is fantastic. You can see that his teams are always organized. That’s a team I’ll always watch and one that interests me.