When Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes steps onto the pitch Friday night for the club's home opener with Orlando City, he will become the second person in the 26-year history of the league to be a part of 600 MLS matches.
Like he does with just about everything else, other than wins and losses, he'll take it all in stride.
"I'd give up 500 if I had another 10 MLS Cups," he said when asked about the milestone at Sporting media day Wednesday. "For me it's about the team. The two things that are most important to me are the building of this club and the winning. The giving and the receiving are reciprocal. That's why I've been here for a long time."
After playing internationally for years, Vermes was part of the founding of MLS. He played in 209 matches with the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars (now the New York Red Bulls), the Colorado Rapids and the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) in his seven-year MLS career. Friday's match will be his 391st as the manager of the Wizards/Sporting KC.
Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 points) reversed a 1-0 deficit with two goals within a minute in a 2-1 victory over the Red Bulls on April 17. But that's a moot point for Vermes.
"I'm really focused on this game more than the last game," Vermes said.
Orlando City (0-1-0, 1 point) will be looking for its first goal of the season after playing to a 0-0 draw against Atlanta United FC. Orlando scored the fifth-most goals in MLS in 2020 and finished in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference table. So the team is confident the goals will come.
"I expect the game to be very difficult," Orlando City forward Benji Michel said. "Going on the road is never easy. We're going to treat it as just another game. This week we've been really dialed in in the final third. We weren't able to finish our chances in the last game, but hopefully we'll get a lot of chances in this game and be able to put them away."
--Field Level Media