Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes on MLS’ Return To Play and COVID-19 Testing
Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes is determined to have his players and technical staff tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis and minimize the risks of spreading the Coronavirus.
With COVID-19 testing widely available across the Kansas City area, Sporting Kansas City covered the cost for players and coaches to be tested for the coronavirus this week at Compass Minerals National Performance Center, formerly Pinnacle, in Kansas City, Kansas.
“We completed testing on Monday,” said Vermes. ” We did COVID testing on Saturday and Monday, and the antibodies (test) as well on Monday. I can say that the process went very well.”
“Unfortunately due to HIPAA, I can’t comment on whether someone was infected or not infected, but I can tell you that the process went really well,” said Vermes.
Kansas City has yet to begin small group training and the decision on when to esume more “normal” team sessions is a league decision. After months of unprecedented uncertainty, it is clear only small steps towards returning to pre-pandemic training have been accomplished.
While Vermes would like to have a date to start small group training and hopes to begin training his players together before the team goes to Orlando — if the MLS plans to host a summertime tournament for all 26 clubs behind closed doors becomes a reality — nothing has been confirmed.
“I just don’t have an answer. I wish I did.”Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director
“We truly have to get back on the field as soon as we possibly can, for so many reasons,” said Vermes. “Obviously, I think we have to do it in a safe way.”
Vermes is in favor of the MLS teams going to a single location to continue the season.
“This is what I do for a profession. I know for the players it’s what they do for a profession,” said Vermes who agrees that it’s a huge undertaking logistically to bring all 26 teams to one location.
“It’s going to be pretty difficult, right? All of us are going to have to keep an open mind on the staff and player side that it’s not going to be perfect, but I think it’s great to be able to get a start,” said Vermes who believes the safest way to get back on the field playing games is to minimize the number of locations.
“There’s been a couple of different models that were created. I do think (the Orlando plan) is the safest and will probably at least buy us some time as some of these other cities start to open up more and more, and hopefully, we’ll get back to full training (in each city) based on the fact that we’ll have testing figured out by then as well.”
According to Vermes, “The challenge for the teams is going to be the amount of time we have prior to the first game and getting the guys ready to participate for 90 minutes with hotter weather than where most of us are coming from.”
As a coach, Vermes intuitively understands and appreciates how hard the moratorium and now social distancing has been for his squad.
“I wouldn’t even call it social distancing. I would call it one island to another where they’re screaming to each other at times.”Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director
Vermes who acknowledges that traveling to Orlando or any other location and being in a lockdown quarantine ‘bubble’ for several weeks will be tough on his players. “Logistically, I’m sure there are guys on teams who have wives that are pregnant, there are foreign players here with families but they don’t have access to their families back home. There’s a lot of different things that we have to think about, so we’re talking about all of those things pretty regularly.”
Who is making the decision on if the MLS teams will approve the Orlando plan?
“There’s chief medical officers, people from the league, athletic trainers, performance analysts. I mean, everyone is involved. It’s a smattering of all different departments that are weighing in on a lot of these subjects and topics. If we were to go to Orlando or any other city for a tournament-style (competition), it would be 11-v-11 and we’d be playing games,” said Vermes who hopes the games aren’t no-contact. “I don’t know how that would work.”
“All joking aside, we have to get a number of days of full-team training.”Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director
Everybody needs that to kind of get their team prepared. And again, I’m not just talking soccer. I first and foremost look at the physical (aspect) and let the soccer then follow suit.”
Should the MLS be the first professional American sports league to return to play during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic? While Vermes believes it would be great for soccer to be the first, but not unless there is a sound plan to protect the players, staff, and the game itself.
“Would I love (MLS) to be first? Absolutely, I would love that.”Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director
“It’s probably the competitor in me as well that would like it that way. But it’s not for the sake of having a bad plan.,” added Vermes.
Major League Soccer’s 2020 season has been suspended since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sporting players returned to Compass Minerals National Performance Center on May 6 for voluntary individual workouts.
The MLS moratorium on small group and full team training sessions runs through June 1, while the suspension of matches runs until June 8.