American Futsal Executive named Interim MLS Head Coach


Courtesy of Super F World 

August 20th, 2009

By: David Knopf

The call came while I was out and my son took the message. For a 12-year-old, his social skills are as sharp as his foot skills.

The caller asked to leave his number, then gave his name: Peter Vermes.

Your average 12-year-old would probably have said, could you spell that, please? But Isaac is no average pre-teen (trust me, I know; I coach 14 of them). He must’ve thought, I’m talking to the Kansas City Wizards’ new interim coach.

If there’s a kid his age who knows more about the Wizards, Major League Soccer or the international game, let’s just say I haven’t met him.

Isaac called me — while I was working — to pass on the message, then nudged me to return the call now.

How’s that for role reversal? The kid telling the parent to be responsible.

Now when we joke about the message he took, we refer to the caller as “Isaac’s friend Peter.” A bit of a stretch maybe, but it never hurts to have some fun after having a brush with fame.

I got to watch the tail end of Vermes’ professional career when he played center back and captained the Wizards, but I wasn’t tuned in when he played futsal for the U.S. National Team in 1989. No one was. That tournament was basically a first, an Adam and Eve experience without the apple or snake for both the U.S. and world futsal, but Vermes and his teammates managed to win a bronze medal in Holland.

When the Wizards let head coach Curt Onalfo go earlier this month, they designated Vermes, their technical director, interim head coach. The team’s ownership group wanted more on-field success than Onalfo provided in 2009 and asked Vermes to fill the void.

Where this leads no one knows, but Super F League is proud to note that one of its founders is now head coach of an MLS team. When Super F was created in 2004 — the leadership included Vermes, Jon Parry (another former U.S. National Futsal Team player) and Lucio Filho, who’d played the game in Brazil before coming to the U.S. to play college soccer.

It’s significant on several levels that Vermes — a former U.S. Olympic Player of the Year (1988), US Soccer Male Player of the Year (1988), World Cup player (1990), CONCACAF Gold Cup gold medalist (1991), MLS Defender of the Year (2000), MLS Cup winner (2000) and U-20 National Team assistant coach — would help create a national futsal organization and align himself with the game.

After all, he could’ve opened an indoor soccer arena!

It speaks volumes that a coach/talent scout who values technically sound players would attach his name to our game. And, it bodes well for futsal that it’s evolved enough in the U.S. that a former national team player and futsal pioneer is now coaching one of just 15 first-division professional teams in this country.

It’s worth noting, too, that Vermes’s new assistant coach, Goran Savic, is also a former futsal national team player, as is Parry, who heads up the Wizards’ very successful Juniors program. (There’s also Jeff Agoos, who capped in futsal and outdoors for the U.S. and is now technical director for New York Red Bull.)

There may be other MLS personnel with futsal backgrounds, too.

The point is clear: While our game has a long way to go to fully embed itself in the U.S. and Canadian soccer cultures, but it’s also come a long way since Vermes suited up for 5-a-side in Holland just 20 years ago. Step by step, it’s arriving.

(Supplementary Peter Vermes Futsal Quote courtesy of Soccer by Ives)

SBI– 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?

VERMES– Absolutely. I’m involved with a youth club, Blue Valley Soccer Club, we also run the largest Futsal league in the country here in Kansas City. It‘s called the Super-F League (with close to 3,500 participants). All of our competitive teams participate in the winter time in Futsal . It is the best off-season training game because it works on so much individual technique of a young developing player. It provides you with so much of the real parts of the game, but in real tight situations, and I really think it helps with development.

(The 1989 U.S. Futsal team finished third at the Futsal World Championships and even scored a victory against Brazil in group play.)

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