Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sporting KC's Vermes inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, U.S. Soccer announced on Wednesday.

Vermes was elected as the top vote recipient among the 15 Veteran ballot candidates, as voted on by current members of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

"Soccer is the consummate team sport and being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame is certainly indicative of that," Vermes said. "It is humbling and a great honor, but would never have happened without the help from our five great owners in Kansas City, the Anschutz and Hunt families, Sunil Gulati, Werner Fricker, plus coaches like Lothar Osiander, 'Mooch' Myernick and Bob Gansler. I am appreciative and have learned so much from all of the teammates I have played with and now all the players I have been around from the youth level up on the technical side.

"If someone would have told me 30 years ago that a Delran, New Jersey kid with Hungarian parents would be elected into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, I would not have believed it. My dad instilled in me an attitude to never take anything for granted and that certainly applies here. My dedication and passion for soccer will never waver and I am so grateful for this recognition."

Vermes' career began in Delran, N.J. where he led Delran High School to a state championship in 1983 with the game-winning goal in overtime and was the New Jersey scholastic player of the year in 1984 as an All-American who finished his prep career with 109 goals. Collegiately, he recorded eight goals and three assists at Loyola of Maryland before transferring to Rutgers University.

From 1985-1987, Vermes contributed 35 goals and 19 assists for the Scarlet Knights in a college career that culminated with Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, NSCAA All-American and National Player of the Year finalist honors. He scored 21 goals and added 10 assists in 24 games as Rutgers' Male Athlete of the Year as a senior and his 10 game-winning goals in 1987 still stand as a school record.

Vermes debuted for the U.S. Men's National Team in 1988 in the first of 67 career appearances that spanned the highest levels of international competition.

He represented the United States at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and was named U.S. Soccer's 1988 Male Athlete of the Year and Olympic Player of the Year.

In 1989, he starred for the bronze-medal winning U.S. team at the first-ever FIFA Five-A-Side World Championship (now Futsal World Cup) in Holland, where he was the tournament's leading scorer with six goals.

He then made six appearances in the 1989 CONCACAF Championship, helping the U.S. qualify for the country's first FIFA World Cup in 40 years. Vermes was chosen to the World Cup team, coached by Gansler, and started all three games at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.

After scoring six of his 11 career international goals in 1990 and earning the captain's armband for his country, Vermes scored twice in the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup with goals in the group stage finale and semifinals en route to the United States' first of four regional championships.

After playing a prominent role in the first ever Gold Cup, Vermes would also feature in the inaugural editions of two more international tournaments a year later with appearances in the 1992 U.S. Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia.

In 1993, Vermes was selected for the United States first trip to Copa America and again represented the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He earned his final cap for the U.S. Men's National Team in November 1997 after transitioning from goal scorer to defender, playing in his 10th career FIFA World Cup Qualifier and doing so under his fifth different national team coach.

Vermes also enjoyed a prolific career at the club level, turning pro with the American Soccer League's New Jersey Eagles in 1988.

He then became the first American to play in the first divisions of Hungary (Raba ETO FC in 1989) and Holland (F.C. Volendam in 1990). Following a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the American Professional Soccer League, he joined Figueres in Spain's second division from 1991-1995.

Returning home ahead of Major League's soccer inaugural season, Vermes first played domestically for the New York Fever as a USISL Professional League Northeast Division All-Star in 1995.

He was selected in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and captained the club in their debut season, leading the team in minutes played. Following the MLS season, Vermes signed with the NPSL's Philadelphia Kixx and was a 1996-1997 NPSL All-Star.

The Colorado Rapids acquired Vermes prior to the 1997 season, in a trade for current Sporting Kansas City assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin, and Vermes led the club to the 1997 MLS Cup with six goals and four assists in the regular season. A team co-captain, Vermes' three years in Colorado under head coach Glenn Myernick from 1997-1999 remain as the Rapids three most victorious seasons in team history.

Not only was Vermes the only MLS player to play every minute in the 1999 season, but the feat came during a span of 67 uninterrupted MLS appearances from 1998-2000 that ranks second most by a field player in League history.

Vermes arrived in Kansas City for the historic 2000 season via a trade with the Rapids. After finishing worst in the Western Conference a year before, KC won the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup in 2000 thanks to Vermes' stellar defensive play in front of Tony Meola.

The team set an MLS record for most regular season shutouts with 17, highlighted by an 817-minute shutout streak in home matches that still stands as the best mark in MLS history.

Vermes anchored the backline in all seven postseason matches, including five more shutouts, to cap off a season that saw him claim MLS All-Star, Best XI and Defender of the Year honors.Vermes' playing career came to a close after the 2002 season, retiring at the age of 36 after a seven-year MLS run in which he reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in all seven campaigns.

He started 208 of 209 MLS appearances (including playoffs) with 11 goals and 19 assists and is one of 26 players in MLS history to start 25 or more postseason matches.

Since retirement, Vermes has continued to grow the game at all levels and holds a USSF "A" coaching license. In 2003, he began his current role as Technical Director of Blue Valley Soccer Club and as Technical Director of the Super-Y League. He founded U.S. Youth Futsal in 2004 and remains on their leadership team today. He also served as an assistant coach on the United States Under-20 Men's National Team that won their group at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands.

In November 2006, two months after Sporting Club purchased the then-Kansas City Wizards from the Hunt Sports Group, Vermes was named the team's Technical Director to oversee all soccer operations for the club. In 2009, Vermes became the team's manager and his .548 winning percentage in five seasons is the best in team history.

He led Sporting Kansas City to first place finishes in the Eastern Conference each of the past two seasons and their first trophy in eight years with the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. An MLS Coach of the Year finalist in 2011 and 2012, Vermes was selected to coach the MLS All-Stars during the 2013 MLS All-Star Game at Sporting Park.

Vermes has also served on the U.S. Soccer Federation's Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Athlete Council in addition to similar roles within Major League Soccer.

He was inducted into the Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Soccer Coaches of New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009. His hometown of Delran, N.J. also honored him with the opening of Olympian Peter Vermes Soccer Park in 1989.

He has been married to his wife Susan for more than 20 years and together they have a daughter, Nicole, and son, Kyle.

Vermes becomes the first Sporting Kansas City player or manager elected into the National Soccer Hall of Fame from the Veteran ballot. Former Kansas City Managers Gansler (2011) and Ron Newman (1992) were each inducted from the Builder ballot, while former Kansas City players Tony Meola (2012), Preki (2010) and Alexi Lalas (2006) were voted into the Hall of Fame on the Player ballot.

The 2013 National Soccer Hall of Fame induction class also includes Joe-Max Moore from the Player ballot. The location and date for the 2013 National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is still to be determined and will be announced at a later date.