Kenneth Vermeer has worked extensively with Jaap Stam at two of his former clubs, first as he rose through the ranks at Ajax and later in the first team at Feyenoord and LAFC’s goalkeeper has good news for FC Cincinnati fans curious about their new head coach.
“I've known Jaap for a while, I played with him since I was, I think, 20 years old,” Vermeer told MLSsoccer.com last week. “Jaap is a coach, a little bit the same like Bob [Bradley]. He likes total football ... the modern football. But he's also a killer – as he was as a player. He doesn't like to lose.”
Before arriving in Los Angeles over the winter, Vermeer started in goal for most of Stam’s brief stint in charge at Feyenoord last year, an underwhelming tenure marked by just three wins in 11 league matches. Nonetheless, he came away impressed with his fellow Dutchman.
“I had a really good, positive experience,” Vermeer said. "He left us last season after, I don’t know how many matches it was, but we weren’t playing as good as we can play with our team last season. It was not about him, it was more that we failed as a team than it was the coach. So I think Jaap is a really good coach.”
Vermeer describes the opportunity to try his hand in MLS as “a dream” and believes Stam may carry a similar mindset as he takes his world-class resume to Ohio in the hopes of elevating FCC after their difficult start to life in the top flight.
“I was reading some articles in the newspapers in the Netherlands,” said Vermeer of Stam. “He was willing to come to MLS, and when he had his chance to go to Cincinnati, he took it, that he wants to show himself in MLS.
“I think it’s the same for a coach as a player – back in the day no big names in coaching wanted to go to the MLS, but that’s a sign that MLS is growing and it’s getting better and better every year.”
Once the world's top center back and a habitual trophy collector across the Eredivisie, English Premier League, Italian Serie A and UEFA Champions League as a player, Stam’s managerial career remains a work in progress. His former ‘keeper thinks he’s a bet worth taking for Cincy.
“His way of thinking, his mindset, the way he thinks of football, I think it’s a good personality for the league. And as a player he was a really experienced player,” said Vermeer. “So I think Jaap will be a good coach for Cincinnati, for sure.”