If you’re interviewing Peter Vermes after you read this, let me tell you one thing. Cut to the chase, be efficient with his time, and let him get out of there quickly because all he wants to do is his job and do it well.
If you’re a KC Wizards fan, that’s a good thing.
TSG had the opportunity to interview KC Wizards coach Peter Vermes this morning and he did not disappoint. Just like he showed us in his playing career, Vermes is a straight shooter, aimed at hitting goals and having success.
While we tried to banter a bit with Peter and get him engage in a little bit of one-two conversation, Vermes was all business and his answers as you will read were matter of fact. A number of times, the KC coach led his answers with, “Look…” as if to say, “This is what’s important and get the story right.”
In the spirit of Peter’s brevity, we’ll keep his answers on the Wizards, Landon Donovan, Jimmy Conrad Twitter escapades, playing in the Azteca, and everything else curt and to the point.
Thanks Peter for the interview….and away we go.
Hey Peter, you could have gone anywhere, why KC?
Look, I’ve been involved in the biz side of the business for awhile and then became technical director at Kansas City. I had the choice of a number of jobs, but I like the technical job. In terms of the KC coaching vacancy, we needed someone who could step in right away and provide some cover until we found the right candidate. We didn’t want to rush into a new coach.
Peter, what are some of your goals or success metrics through the end of the year?
Look we have to be very realistic. We’re in 13th place. We’re a long shot to make the playoffs. You have to look where you are and where you want to get to and then figure out how to get there. For us, it starts with the basics. Number one we have to improve our performance, on a practice-to-practice basis and week-to-week basis. We can’t be rolling the dice on what we’re doing. Each player has to be committed to a better performance.
Look, we’re not magicians, we know where we are in the standings, but if we’re committed to better performance the results will come
Okay, great, but what are some specific things you are looking for?
All players have to raise their intensity.
We need to create more offensive chances.
Kevin Hartman’s having a good year and we still need to keep more clean sheets.
Intensity is the key ingredient though. If I see more intensity, then I know the results will come.
Switching gears here, one question I’ve always wanted to ask players from an older generation is: Are you bitter? There is “better” everything these days. Better compensation. Better exposure. Better equipment. Even better fields. Do you wish you had played at a different time–with the time being now?
Every player wishes they had the chance to keep playing. Everyone. Look, I had a great 15-year career and I came along at a really great time. I was lucky enough to have the MLS when I was winding down my career. I appreciate the opportunities I have; I don’t weigh them versus the current ones.
The best thing for me to see is the progression of the sport. That is what is satisfying now.
I think now, for sure, the US has a bigger base of players at a certain level. In terms of the play, the game is faster and more athletic and players need to be more tactically involved and aware. And because of that, the intelligence has to increase of the game.
The key for growth now is the on-field intelligence needs to increase. You see a player like Landon, who has the pace, fitness, versatility and the intelligence. He is the model player.
Speaking of versatility Coach, in our minds, you were the precursor to Rio Ferdinand–someone who excelled as a striker and then transferred to the defensive line and was just as effective. How did you easily make that shift? Or was it easy?
Attitude is versatility. You need two things: you want to win and you’ll do whatever it takes to win. Players have such high levels of all around skill now that it really just comes down to accepting your role and being a team player.
(TSG Note: What a great response. How could you not want to play with or for this guy.)
Now on to Donovan, you watched and commented on Donovan as an announcer for the Earthquake in 2002, what’s your perspective on his growth. At TSG, we think in the past year, he’s finally had the mindset to match his physical gifts. Any commentary?
Landon’s progression is tremendous. The fact that he is still playing in our league is great for our league though it’s amazing that he hasn’t been bought up yet.
He’s got all the pieces of the game that we just talked about. In the past year, you’re right, he’s taken his game to another level. He knows his strengths and he plays to them and he has no weaknesses. His quickness…specifically his quickness with the ball, to make a move, and then make a great decision with it is just amazing.
And he’s still young. He’s learned all these things at a young age with still a lot of playing time left. He’s brought a new level of respect to himself and to the American team with his ability and growth.
What did you think of the US game last night (Mexico 2, US 1). I thought we played well given the circumstances and, in contrast to public opinion, Bob Bradley did an admirable job. I did think though that we played too conservatively in the first half. In the second half when we brought Stu Holden and Benny Feilhaber (Vermes coached BF on the U-20 team)–that was a big moment for me and for US soccer. I thought it was Bob Bradley taking a stand and finally saying, in the middle of a 1-1 game against a tough opponent, “We’re good enough. We can win this.”
I couldn’t disagree with you. Bob Bradley’s a good coach. He’s a good motivator and team builder. His teams are very focused and very disciplined (see follow-up question). Davies had a really nice goal in the beginning and we got unlucky on some other chances. We were unlucky on the 2nd Mexican goal. The first goal was an absolute boombosa.
Look, the Azteca is a hard, hard, hard…hard place to play; I played there. We did extremely well to handle the pressure in the 1st half. Nobody…no team goes into the Azteca and doesn’t face intense offensive pressure. We weren’t afraid to come out and play.
(Note: Definition of “boombosa” (n.) – A swerving, diving knuckler off the limbo bar that somehow passes Tim Howard. — Used in a sentence, “The first Mexican goal was an absolute boombosa.”)
Following up on Bradley teams being disciplined, were yesterday’s yellow cards a lapse in that discipline or did you think the ref was inconsistent?
Yeah, I definitely think we had a number of yellow cards that weren’t yellow cards and the refs were a little inconsistent. You have to remember, the refs are nervous too. There’s 100,000 screaming, aggressive Mexican fans there. That’s the Azteca; the Mexicans are going to get the calls.
Following up on the line-up change in the 2nd half, TSG has commented–(note: I told Peter our review was up for him to read–might have been the first time I got a chuckle)–that we would be disappointed if Bob Bradley didn’t take a more balanced approach and introduce Benny and even Stu into the midfield for the El Salvador game. Would you be disappointed if we didn’t present a more compelling offensive lineup in our next match?
Each game is different and each game has different tactics. I’m sure Bob will come out with a strong game plan.
Okay, changing gears a bit here. What players who you coached on the U-20 team should US fans look out for?
Robbie Rogers. He’s got really special ability. He’s going to be a player. Benny, special ability. His level of confidence grows with each game. He’s so confident on the one-touch and the two-touch.
Davies. Davies was always good, but now he’s a finisher.
And that kid, that had the tryout with Man U.
No, no, the defensive guy.
Spector, who’s now at West Ham?
Yeah, yeah. He’s got a really good head on his shoulders and he’s getting a lot of experience. Watch out for him.
Okay Peter thanks for your time. One more question coming back to the KC Wizards. You worried about Jimmy Conrad getting on Twitter again? Does it compromise anything to have the voice of the individual player so easily accessible these days?
Emails, voicemails, cellphones they change how everything is said these days. That is what it is.
How about a funny story about Jimmy? Any times in the locker room where he’s just making you crack up or your like, “Okay, c’mon Jimmy, that’s enough?” If you give us a funny story, it will really help out our viewership.
Jimmy is Jimmy. I have a lot of respect for Jimmy. He’s been in this game a long time. He’s being smart now in that he’s setting himself up for the last day of his career. I have no problem with what Jimmy does.
Anything else we should have asked that he didn’t, Coach? Anything you want to tell the fans?
It’s going to take us a little time (referring to the Wizards). Be patient, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Thanks a lot for the time Coach. Really enjoyed it. Have a good practice.
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