Remarks by the President Honoring the MLS Cup Champion Sporting KC
2:13 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Hello, Kansas City. Everybody, have a seat. Have a seat. Welcome to the White House. Give it up to the MLS champ, Sporting Kansas City. (Applause.) Yay!
Now, my press secretary, Josh Earnest, is from Kansas City. He has made the observation that the Royals are advancing -(applause) -- that the Chiefs made the Patriots look kind of bad on Monday night. (Laughter.) And so, clearly, something is going on in Kansas City, but apparently these guys are the ones who got it all started, got the ball rolling. (Applause.) It’s a pretty good day to be from Kansas City. You guys are feeling kind of cocky right now. (Laughter.)
We’ve got some members of Congress who are here today from Kansas City, who obviously love sports. It’s a great sports town. We’ve got the Sporting KC’s owners and family. I want to congratulate your manager, Peter Vermes, for becoming the first person in MLS history to win titles both as a player and a coach in the same organization. (Applause.)
That is not the only history that Sporting KC made this season. After beating New England and Houston in the playoffs to win the Eastern Conference, they were rewarded with the coldest title game ever played in Major League Soccer. (Laughter.) When the game started, the temperature was just 20 degrees. By the end, it was less than 10 degrees. I’m sure that felt good. (Laughter.) That was after 120 minutes of soccer and the longest penalty shootout -- 10 rounds -- in MLS Cup history. But finally, Aurelien Collin kicked the winning penalty shot, and KC raised their second Cup.
And the thing about Kansas City fans is that even in below-freezing temperatures, the seats were filled. Sporting Park was packed. It is a city that loves soccer. They’ve sold out 51 straight games. In a section of seats called “The Cauldron,” thousands of fans come out to stand and chant all game long.
And this past summer, when Americans packed restaurants and stadiums and city parks during the World Cup, the fans in Kansas City led the way. It seemed like 10 minutes couldn’t pass without seeing live shots of thousands of fans crowding the Power and Light District and cheering on Team USA. I know they cheered extra hard for Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who represented Sporting KC and their country in Brazil. So as soccer continues to grow here in the United States, it does so in large part because of the great example of dedicated fans in Kansas City. So congratulations to all of you. (Applause.)
In the same way that Kansas City has embraced its soccer team, the soccer team has embraced the city. Aurelien has a fashion line and men’s clothing shop in Kansas City. (Laughter.) Where are you? You want to model some of your stuff? (Laughter.) He’s got the pocket square, the earrings. I’m going to look like him after I get out of office. (Laughter.) He looks pretty sharp. You’ve got Seth Sinovic, and assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin, and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who all made their debuts in the Kansas City Ballet last year. That’s impressive. They got to bring that trophy with them on stage to distract the audience from their limited ballet skills. (Laughter.)
And through the Victory Project, Sporting KC works to raise money for kids in the region with cancer and special needs and life-threatening medical conditions through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They’ve opened new practice fields, they’re hosting soccer clinics all over Missouri and Kansas. So this is an organization that knows that being a champion isn’t just about what you do on the field -- it’s also what you do off the field.
I know that the entire city is very, very proud of you. We want to congratulate you. And I want to congratulate all the fans of Kansas City for the great job you do as well. So give them all a big round of applause. (Applause.)
COACH VERMES: So a little background. Fourteen years ago, as you stated earlier, I won the MLS Cup with the team as a player. And unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to come to the White House, so I figured I had to go back and come coach to win it so that I could get here. So here I am. (Laughter.) So I’m pretty excited about that aspect.
What I’d like to say is, from the entire organization, thank you very much for hosting us. We greatly appreciate it. Obviously, this is an incredible honor for all of us. And more importantly, hopefully we can do it again, and we can show up here again and see you in a year from now.
So I’d like to first present you with this medal. We also have a -- I’m not sure which side it’s on -- there is a -- it’s on this side? We have a shirt you might want to take a look at. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to have to break the glass to wear it. (Laughter.)
Thank you so much. Congratulations.
COACH VERMES: Thank you, I really appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: Good, appreciate you.
2:21 P.M. EDT