Jason Kreis was pouring in goals at times in the late 1990s and early 2000s for the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas, of course.)
Peter Vermes was anchoring defenses for Colorado in those same late 1990s and then for the Kansas City Wizards in the early part of the next decade. So these two met on the field, multiple times at that.
That’s not remarkable in itself. Nor is it particularly remarkable that Vermes and Kreis are meeting as opposing managers Saturday for the 18th MLS Cup. But what is noteworthy here is that these two elements have never crisscrossed.
This is the first time former MLS players will meet as managers with MLS Cup on the line.
Former MLS players have managed in the league’s big finale before; Frank Yallop was the first (for San Jose) way back in 2001. Peter Nowak, Dominic Kinnear and Kreis followed (all as winners, no less). But this is the first time a pair of them have faced off.
Kreis (pictured above) was the better known MLS man as a player, the league’s first striker to reach the 100-goal milepost, and holder of the league’s all-time leading scorer honor for several years.
Vermes (pictured below) was equally as successful, but as a defender didn’t always enjoy the same name recognition. What Vermes did have was a more accomplished national team career. While Kreis never quite gained a foothold internationally, Vermes collected 67 caps.
Vermes was also front-and-center on one of the best MLS defenses ever, the 2000 Kansas City Wizards championship team. Back-stopped by goalkeeper Tony Meola at his best, a team of players who understood their roles, played within themselves and knew how to win 1-0 games beat the Chicago Fire in that year’s final.
Kreis’ top accomplishment as a player (team-wise, that is) was Dallas’ 1997 U.S. Open Cup triumph over D.C. United.