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Since joining the Kansas City Wizards as technical director back in 2006, Peter Vermes as developed a reputation as one of the best front office men in Major League Soccer. What he also managed to do was establish himself as a sought-after head coaching candidate, with at least two teams trying to hire him in the past year.
Vermes turned down those coaching opportunities to stay with the Wizards, which he was hoping to turn into a winner. Now, Vermes is getting his chance to coach as well as guide Kansas City out of a funk that has the Wizards in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Vermes is Kansas Citys interim head coach, having taken over for fired predecessor Curt Onalfo, and will make his professional head coaching debut today when the Wizards face the Chicago Fire (3pm, Telefutura).
Im not expecting to come in and wave some magic wand but we need our players to be accountable for their performances, Vermes said. We have the players to deliver better results and its up to them to show that.
The former U.S. national team striker and MLS All-Star defender is not a complete stranger to being a coach. He spent time as a U.S.Under-20 national team assistant before joining the Wizardsand in recent years he has found time to work with Kansas Citys youth teams, running practice sessions on occasion to keep his coaching chops sharp.
Whether that is enough to help resurrect the Wizards playoff hopes remains to be seen, but Vermes isnt looking that far ahead. He is focused on helping Kansas City post its first league victory in more than two months.
We cant talk about the playoffs right now, we need to work as a team to play like we did earlier in the year, Vermes said. The rest of this year will be a good opportunity to see which players we can count on going forward beyond this season.
Something else Im hoping you will see is a team that is much tougher to play against.
If the Wizards take on the personality Vermes had as a player, that should be an easy change to make. Vermes established a reputation as a tough and no-nonsense player,from his time as a tough striker to his days as one of the best defenders in MLS.
Will the job become a permanent one for Vermes? He insists that it is just an interim role and that the team will begin a lengthy search for a new head coach once the season ends. While that might be the plan now, it would be tough to imagine Vermes giving up the whistle if he helps the Wizards climb into the playoff race.
Im not thinking about that, or about next year right now, Vermes said. Right now the focus is on making the team better and giving the fans here a team they can be proud of.
The first step starts today vs. the Fire.
What do you think about Vermes as Kansas Citys head coach? See him turning things around? Think hell wind up keeping the job? Can you see the Wizards making the playoffs?
Share your thoughts below.