They are two of America’s up-and-coming managers, and in seven head-to-head encounters there has been little to separate them.
Since Peter Vermes took charge of the then-Kansas City Wizards in August 2009 he and Real Salt Lake’s Jason Kreis have each won three matches against the other and drawn once. Only twice has the spread between them been two goals or greater; just once has one of the two clubs strung back-to-back victories against the other (Real Salt Lake in 2009 and 2010).
It goes without saying the eighth and tie-breaking match will be a closely-fought, and likely low-scoring, affair, and in this particular instance the stakes could not be higher.
On Saturday, December 7, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake will square off to determine American football supremacy in the 2013 MLS Cup. And that both clubs have won the league on one occasion—Kansas City in 2000 and Salt Lake in 2009—only serves to set up a tie-breaker of even greater proportions.
But given Kansas City’s 13-year MLS Cup drought, Vermes has had to create a winning mentality from scratch in recent seasons whereas Kreis and a handful of his current players are just four years removed from their memorable win on penalties over Los Angeles Galaxy.
Still, Kreis remains hungry, even desperate, for silverware, and in remarks made to Salt Lake’s official website the 40-year-old revealed he was delighted to have even won the Western Conference trophy after overcoming Portland Timbers on Sunday.
“I think for me, the most rewarding thing is not about getting back to the MLS Cup,” he said. “The most rewarding thing is that finally this group has won a trophy. Another trophy.
He added: “In my honest opinion...this team deserves more trophies than they have. They’ve put themselves in a position to win so many times, and it’s just been unfortunate not to.”
Vermes, meanwhile, is just happy to get over the hump after falling short in previous playoff campaigns.
“Everybody has that hurdle that they have to get over and we’re a very young team,” he told SportingKC.com following Saturday’s win over Houston Dynamo. “And to accomplish this with such a young maturity level on our team is fantastic.”
If there is an edge going into MLS Cup it is likely on the side of Sporting Kansas City, who posted a 2-1 win away to Real Salt Lake back in July.
“[Real Salt Lake] are a good team,” Vermes told his club’s official website at the time, adding that he thought his players had done a good job disrupting Salt Lake’s flow.
“It was a hard-fought match,” he added.
And the 2013 MLS Cup should be no different.