The SBI Questions: Ask Peter Vermes

Peter Vermes USA  

When it comes to being able to discuss everything from the experience of playing in a World Cup, playing in Europe, winning an MLS Cup and building an MLS Cup contending team, there are few Americans who can speak from experience like Peter Vermes.

From his experience in the 1990 World Cup, when he started all three games and played every minute for the United States in its first World Cup appearance in 40 years, to his dream season helping lead the Kansas City Wizards to the 2000 MLS Cup title, Vermes has seen and done it all throughout his distinguished career.

Now the technical director of the Wizards, Vermes has become one of the most respected and sought-after executives in MLS. Courted by several clubs this past off-season, Vermes has chosen to stay in Kansas City and help build the Wizards into a championship contender.

Vermes is the latest interview subject for The SBI Questions, a new feature on SBI that will consist of readers submitting questions, SBI selecting the best of them before presenting them to the interview subject. Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio took part in the first installment of The SBI Questions and we are working on the next MLS/USMNT personality to take the hot seat.

Please submit your soccer-related questions for Vermes in the comments section below. The answers will be posted next week.

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66 Responses to The SBI Questions: Ask Peter Vermes

  1. JL says:

    We need to come up with a better name for this feature….may I suggest, Mafia Interrogation: Peter Vermes (or whomever)

  2. Chuck says:

    Wow, this is so random. I was litteraly just thinking yesterday about my time at Peter Vermes soccer camp from like 15 years ago. Anyway, I was hoping Peter could touch on the strides US Soccer has made since is MNT playing days and how he thinks we should improve our current youth setup to develop a truly world class player.

  3. Roger Van Gool says:

    What is your interest in returning to Southern New Jersey and being involved with the Philadelphia team?

  4. Ryan says:

    1. What will have to happen for owners to agree to a larger salary cap? TV contracts? Sustained ticket sales? Merchandise?

    2. How far away is the MLS from being a realistic player for mid-level European players?

  5. J says:

    damn, ives has juice!!

    no good questions come to mind at the immediate moment. just wanted to throw ives some props for the success of the new feature.

  6. John V. says:

    What skill does he see American players lacking that more polished pros in the European leagues possess?

  7. jtd says:

    How much of a salary cap increase do you see coming out of the palyer/owners/mls talks coming up? What is your take on that number?

  8. jon says:

    What are the thoughts/chances around a salary cap increase in 2010?

  9. fred says:

    Will the MLS ever move away from the single entity structure?

  10. Steve T says:

    Peter, what was your most memorable moment from the 1990 World Cup, both on and off the field?

  11. Goalscorer24 says:

    How do you feel about MLS clubs going after these older European players, like Raul, who consdier the league a semi-retirement league? Isn’t that the same thing the NASL did? What do you think of MLS getting rid of the reserve league?

  12. Chris in KC says:


    As a Wizards STH, I know that we are all drolling to see the new stadium renderings. Any idea when those will be made public? Robb isjust teasing us!

  13. Josh says:

    How does the tactical awareness of today’s players compare with that of you and your contemporaries?

  14. The one and only Mighty says:

    How can MLS help our young soccer players?

    and what are your feelings on how MLS took out Reserve division for each club ?

  15. Jeffrey says:

    Hey Peter, loved your game as a player. Here goes: You are one of the few players to enjoy success both as a striker and as a central defender. Who was the best defender you ever played against? And who was the best forward you ever played against?

  16. ThaDeuce says:

    As a person who started watching soccer during the 2002 World Cup when I was in high school, I am unsure of the progress U.S. soccer has made in the decades earlier. Could you enlighten us on what it was like to play on the first United States World Cup team in 40 years, the excitement or lack-there-of of the country, and the dramatic strides, if there have been any, the USMNT and U.S. soccer have made since then? Also, do you think the USMNT is strong enough to be a serious contender in the 2010 World Cup, or do we still have some serious strides to make?

  17. Sean says:

    Does the proliferation of turf in the league (Seattle, Toronto, NE, NY) present any problems when courting players from elsewhere? Or is this something that just doesn’t really come up?

  18. Gino says:

    Great feature Ives.

    Peter: Any chance John O’Brien comes out of retirement to lead the Wizards to MLS glory?

  19. sack says:

    Triva – Who was the first ever Metrostars captain.

  20. CapeCodFutbol says:

    Peter: Would you (at your peak) be starting XI on the USMNT today?

    And as a side note, thanks for the years of service and great memories!

  21. Brie says:

    What goes into becoming successful as he has in the sports business? What qualities helped him get where he is today?

  22. Geoff says:

    Mr. Vermes,

    I am a massive admirer of what you have achieved in the game. I was wondering what advice and wisdom could you pass on to people like myself that have aspirations to coach at the highest level?

  23. Joeking says:

    Peter- What are the stadium plans? Attendance, roof, entertainment besides the game?

  24. Jeff says:

    The US National team has come a long way and become a serious threat to beat any other country on any given day. If you’re being honest, do you feel more proud to be a part of the build up towards that or resentment that you didn’t get to play on a national team this strong?

  25. Brant says:

    I’d like to know what Vermes thinks the USMNT lacks to be able to compete with the top dogs like Spain, England, Germany, Brazil, etc. Are we lacking in goal-scorers? Midfield creativity? Overall depth?

    And follow-up, what can the US soccer establishment do to get guys like Dwyane Wade and Wes Welker and Dustin Pedroia onto a soccer field instead of whatever other sport they end up chasing? Is it as simple as the checkbook? Playing on TV? Knowledge of opportunities earlier in life?

  26. D.K. says:


    The Wizards organization was the first in MLS to implement a true business / soccer split. Why did you decide to structure the organization that way, and how does it work day-to-day?

  27. jj says:

    Who is the best US player you ever played with or against?

  28. TwhiT says:

    Mr Vermes,

    Realistically, do you think you will retire from the business world of MLS as a Wizard FO man? Being a Wizards blue-blood bleeder, it would pain me to see you go anywhere else in the league.

  29. Seriously? says:

    Regarding Italia 90 memories, what are your memories of the game against Italy, and everything surrounding it.

    Specificly, (my biggest memory from that game) how close the US came to tying it, on a shot through Zenga’s legs which he barely deflected with his butt. What a shock that would have been had it gone in.

  30. THE Nick says:

    Peter, experiencing playing in year one of MLS with a pro like Donadoni on your team, can you tell us any interesting stories? How did a multi-millionaire, top pro with Champions League and Serie A medals in his trophy cabinet get on with the others on the team?

  31. THE Nick says:

    Peter, thanks for taking these questions, as a member of the MetroStars in year one, and now as a part of management of KC, can you tell us how Charlie Stillitano went wrong during his spell with the club?

  32. Mr. Derp says:

    Thanks for taking the time Peter. I’m wondering: Is there a favorite jersey you’ve got from a post-match swap, and what do players do with all the shirts they collece throughout the years?

  33. Scott C from Buff says:

    I think the Wizards are doing better than most at acquiring and developing young talent. But in my mind, the elimination of the reserve division is very short sighted. I believe I read somewhere that Colorado has created a player development arrangement with a USL2 team. To me that sound’s brilliant. Is KC considering perusing a similar arrangement?

  34. Bacalao says:


    I first saw you play with the MNT in a ’87 exhibition match against Cruz Azul Albuquerque. If I’m recalling correctly, some of your teammates that day were John Doyle, Steve Trittschuh, Bruce Murray, Brian Bliss and Ricky Davis. Are you still in contact with any of those guys?

  35. Peter says:

    Hi Peter, I was wondering how long you think our new youth system in MLS will take before it starts to make a real impact? Also are you aware of any players currently that are close to the first team level.

  36. KCB says:

    Some great questions in here (that I would have asked if not already posted). So I’ll pose this multi-tiered question:

    Mr Vermes,

    Thanks for staying with my hometown Wizards and looking forward to our Boys in Blue lifting the cup.

    What are your thoughts on filling an MLS squad with domestic vs. foreign players? Do you believe MLS should lean more toward building their squads with domestic to further the game and deepen the player pool here in the United States? OR is it more important to go out and load up on as many quality foreign players as possible to put out the most talented squad you can?

    P.S. And on a personal note, I’ve always loved that Kansas City has traditionally built their squad with quality American players that our supporters can be proud to support.

  37. Dan says:

    As the father of a soccer-crazy 7 year old boy from the Philadelphia area, I’d like to know your thoughts on how to keep his interest up in a sport that would have come after arena football in terms of interest, had arena football not folded.

  38. Isaac says:

    Hey Peter. I’m sure you still watch the Mens National team matches and I was wondering who do you think is the best Youth in U.S. Soccer right now?

  39. David Wagner says:

    Do you think the Wizards pulled the plug too soon on Yura Movsisyan, what was the situation behind that deal? Thanks and best of luck this season.

  40. Mike says:

    DHS, Can You Dig It?

    Or had they not composed that “fight” chant song thing when you were in high school?

  41. Marc says:

    If you were Comissioner for a day, what would your two highest priorities be?

  42. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    What progression of thought is given to selling a Eddie Johnson type player? Clearly he was a draw for you in KC. Do you do analysis of loss of home attendance vs amount of $$ bid, or jersey sales? Just a quick run down of how you analyze that type of player movement/sale.

  43. Reid says:

    Expanding on something I wrote earlier today on foxsoccer…

    Seeing that $40mil is sounding like a lot of money for these teams to handle especially when they are starting from scratch, would a scale system, for example:

    $40 million fee if the team has no intention of building their own stadium.

    $20mil for teams that need to do improvements on their stadiums.

    $0 for teams that will be building a SSS from scratch.

    It balances out, and also encourages SSS to be built around the US & Can.

    So Peter would you be in favor of such a scale for incoming expansion bids?

  44. Pat, Kansas City says:

    Hey Peter I’m loving eveything thats going on in Kansas City right now keep it up. My question is, Being one of the members of the 1990 World Cup, what kind of experience was that like for you, where a majority of American players were from college or non professional? And any good stories while you were in Italy?

  45. Drew says:

    It seems that tons of fans from around the League continually disrespect the Wizards organization. What would you say are the strengths of your organization that people outside of the family might not know?

  46. Jason L says:

    I’m interested to learn more about the role of players’ agents. How much do the tactics used by agents in the US differ from those used elsewhere? Does having an agent from a certain country limit a player’s career options when considering moves abroad? What do you think the most important qualities are for agents in MLS and around the world?

  47. Michael F. (SBI Mafia Original) says:


    You are a Jersey boy, Rutgers, MetroStar. Do you ever see yourself coming back to these parts?

    What did playing abroad teach you that helps you in your every day duties today?


  48. sack says:


    When you took the game winning shootout kick against DC in the 1996 playoffs and said “Esse! If I shoot, we win,” were you asking him, or telling him!!

  49. mikey says:

    Move KC to a city that will support them

  50. Ryan says:

    Peter, when will we see Ralph Perez coaching at the MLS or National level again?

  51. kjk_40b says:

    As an original Metrostar STH in ’96, was there a young player you played with that you thought would make an impact on the international level? i.e. Miles Joseph, A.J. Wood, or Matt McKeon etc.

  52. jim b says:

    What is the long term plan for KC? As a Wizards STH I’m curious as to what steps will be taken to build on our growing fan base. It seems at though we are in a holding pattern until the new stadium is built. Once we do get our own digs, how does the FO plan to court Chiefs/Royals fans? Those franchises seem to have a loyal following regardless of on-field performance. You’ve built a winner in KC – I guess what I’m asking is how are we gonna fill our stadium with new fans and end this “move KC” nonsense once and for all. P.S…. I’m dying to see the stadium renderings, when can we see that?

  53. How many years did you play for Gyor?

    What position did you play there?

    What was it like playing against Ferencvaros and Ujpest?

    Did you enjoy your time in Hungary?

  54. Mark says:

    Peter, were you responsible for trading Dave Van Den Bergh to the Red Bulls for a supplemental pick while picking up a huge chunk of his salary? If so, did you throw-up in your mouth when he went on to become the Red Bulls best player not named Juan Pablo Angel?

    Thanks for your years of service to the game in this country and helping it grow. Great to sees guys who helped start MLS now in positions of power and doing well for their teams and fans.

  55. Jon in KC says:

    PV, great job so far in KC, hoping he aquistion of all these attacking-minded players pays-off this year. How do you see the team doing this year, and what do you think they need to do to become MLS Cup Champions?

  56. mexicanbluefish says:

    Bradley or Arena?

    Beyonce or J-Lo?

    Jozy or Clint?

    Budweiser or Guiness?

  57. Rageman says:

    Mafia Interrogation

    Great concept, Ives. The Osario interview was outstanding.

    Peter, the US team seems to have been built/trained/devised to basically defeat Mexico. What steps are needed to get the team to challenge the other, more powerful nations in Europe and South America?

    Are you also sick of the one striker system that Sampson, then Arena and now Bradley employs?

  58. Scott A says:

    Sweet Ives

    As a member of the U.S. Futsal team at the 1989 FIFA Futsal World Championships which placed third, do you think that Futsal can play an integral role in developing U.S. soccer players and technical skills? Should it be given more attention that it currently is?

  59. BlueWhiteLion says:

    The Wizards have seemed to toil in relative obscurity, the 2000 Cup notwithstanding. Yet the club persists and slowly keeps building. Can you give a personal perspective of the challenges of growing your club, as well as what joys/factors keep you and the club moving forward?

  60. Joe says:

    With the dissolving of the reserves league, do you think — for at least the near future — that more MLS teams should affiliate minor league teams such as Chicago has done in NPSL (where you can pay players and therefore theoretically house some developmental contract players) and the PDL (where the top college prospects that have gone through your juniors programs can have a place to play during the summer to stay tight with the organization). I know that KC currently has the PDL KC Brass — but to my knowledge there is no official affiliation with them like there is between Chicago and its NPSL and PDL sides…

  61. tdjakes says:

    KC does support the Wizards but that support can always grow. I’ve heard rumors that Cauldron season ticket sales are up significantly, and a new park is opening soon. You have to re-build the hardcore base that the Hunts ignored. That seems to be going well.

    A question for Peter. Are you confident KC will fix their scoring woes from 2008? If so, what do you base that confidence on?

  62. jtd says:

    Reid, that’s a brilliant idea. I’ve not come across it and it makes so much sense. Points for you!

  63. doug says:

    Mr Vermes. I remember watching you play on that big green sea of astroturf formerly known as the Rutgers Soccer Stadium when i was a kid. Good times. My question is who do you think the best player to ever wear the #10 USMNT jersey? Tab Ramos, Landon Donovan, or someone else.

  64. jim dandy says:

    i realize you may need to be diplomatic about this, but can you explain whether or not it is rongen who is pushing some of these younger talents with dual citizenship away from the US nats?

  65. Jim says:

    How about the idea of coming up to Omaha (only 2 1/2 hours away) to play an exhibition or maybe a US Open Cup match. Creighton has a wonderful SSS that seats about 6000, might be a nice way to grow the fanbase within the region?

  66. Brian says:

    What is the hardest part of building a team of players in Kansas City or MLS?