The soccer world is in mourning after longtime FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova passed away on Friday at the age of 45 following a battle with cancer.
Vilanova had a special connection with two prominent US soccer figures -- Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes and USMNT assistant coach and youth soccer director Tab Ramos. The three were teammates with Spanish club Figueres. He also coached Sporting KC midfielder Uri Rosell, a product of the Barcelona youth system.
"I'm just very sad today," Vermes told ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle. "Vilanova was a great guy. He was always a class act as a person, and an honest player as well on the field. I had a lot of respect for him, even outside of soccer. It’s a really young guy passing away. It’s just terrible."
FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium was open on Saturday morning for fans and club members to pay their respects at a memorial set up for Vilanova. A religious service is scheduled to take place in the Barcelona cathedral on Monday.
Vilanova's long-time friend Pep Guardiola, who manages 2014 MLS All-Star opponent Bayern Munich in Germany, struggled to celebrate his team's come-from-behind win vs. Werder Bremen on Saturday, with one photo in particular, which circulated extensively on social media, encapsulating his state of mind: