Sporting Kansas City’s Manager Peter Vermes On The MLS SuperDraft
The Road to Becoming a Pro Soccer Player in America is changing. Here is the MLS Sporting Executive of the Year Peter Vermes on the Draft.
This is a year of changes — and everyone at the MLS SuperDraft in Chicago acknowledged it.
While Sporting Kansas City selected Florida Gulf Coast’s defensive midfielder Kamar Marriott as the 21st pick in the first round in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, citing that the player can provide depth for the well-established team, the Sporting Kansas City Academy just received the 2018 MLS Academy of the Year honor and is well established from developing homegrown talent.
What is the role of the MLS SuperDraft in today’s ever-changing soccer landscape?
Does the combine still provide a critical identification process and is the SuperDraft selection as important as it once was?
The simple answer is no.
Sporting KC won the inaugural award of MLS Academy of the Year for its exemplary player development under Academy Director Jon Parry and his dedicated team of coaches and support staff.
Promoting players through the Sporting KC Academy on to its professional pathway is a passion for everyone at Sporting.
Sporting’s General Manager Peter Vermes believes every level must play the same style, allowing a player’s transition from Academy to USL and MLS to be unhampered by learning Sporting style of play. The increased speed of the game as the player rises on the pathway to becoming a pro may be challenging but at the minimum, the player from Sporting’s Academy know Vermes’ preferred style.
Academy products Daniel Salloi — who led the MLS team with 16 goals in all competitions in 2018 — as well as Wan Kuzain, Jaylin Lindsey, and 16-year-olds Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman know Sporting’s model of play.
So how does a new recruit from the MLS SuperDraft fit in? Well, Vermes did acknowledge that there are opportunities for players of his own system but they have to prove themselves.
Diane Scavuzzo Interviews Peter Vermes on the 2019 MLS SuperDraft:
Diane Scavuzzo: How important is the MLS SuperDraft now?
Peter Vermes: Over the course of the years, the MLS SuperDraft has been a very effective place to build your roster, especially the foundation.
With the total investment that owners are now putting into their MLS Academies, I don’t believe this has the same relevance anymore.
I think our Academies are where our players are coming from.
A very easy way to look at it is this: At the SuperDraft, you are drafting a 22-year-old man compared to taking a 16, 17, or 18-year-old player that you have so much more influence on, simply based on the fact that your academy player has had all those years with the club.
That’s a big, big difference.
I think it is one of the reasons why you see that Philadelphia traded all of their draft picks away because they are putting importance on the Academy.
I would say a lot of us are doing the same. That’s why it’s very hard for players coming out of this environment to make an MLS team and have a real impact.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think this will be the last draft?
Peter Vermes: I would say that with evolution comes change.
I think there is going to be a real conversation between now and next year. I can promise you that you won’t see the same thing as you see now. I think you have a lot of variations of what that could be but it’s not going to be the same as it is now.
I even think the combine is in jeopardy as well.
Diane Scavuzzo: When you have a chance to develop a player and have them learn your system, how could you possibly have a pick from the draft actually see significant field time when they are cold and out of college?
Peter Vermes: Yes, that’s why it’s very difficult.
The evolution of all the MLS clubs has moved to a much different world.
All the MLS clubs have models of play as well as consistency within their entirely vertically integrated system.
With that being said, that’s why it’s so difficult to not only bring a player in but to have that kid to actually make it when you compare them to a young player that has been in your system.
Between a 16-year-old and a 22-year-old kid, the 16-year-old transitions much faster.
Photo credit: Diane Scavuzzo