Why no one's swept the US soccer treble

Sporting KC - US Open Cup 2015 - celebration

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Peter Vermes knows a few things about contending for – and winning – trophies.

Since their rebrand in 2011, Vermes' Sporting Kansas City side has won one MLS Cup championship in 2013 and taken U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012 and 2014. In 2012 and 2013, Sporting also finished runner-up in the Supporters Shield standings.

But while there have been 11 domestic double winners over the years – most recently in 2014, when the Seattle Sounders won the Open Cup and the Shield – there has never been a domestic treble winner since MLS began play in 1996. 

With league sides heading into 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action this week, Vermes – who played on the then-Wizards team that won Supporters Shield and MLS Cup titles in 2000 – said it won't be easy for any club to claim the elusive treble.

“Look, I think anything's possible,” Vermes told reporters on Tuesday, one day ahead of Sporting's away date with NASL side Minnesota United. “I really do. I think anything's possible. But it takes a lot of things to go your way, a lot of things. Injuries are a big one. Calls. That's the bottom line. There's a lot of things that have to go your way for that to happen.”

In addition to the usual obstacles in the way of any team trying to win multiple domestic titles, Vermes said, MLS presents its own set of challenges – from salary cap and roster size restrictions, to geography and climate, to a league schedule that does not follow the FIFA calendar and thus forces clubs to do without key players during international competitions.

“It doesn't get talked about. It just doesn't,” he said. “I don't know why. But when you talk about the difference in climates that we play in, and the extremes of the climates that we play in, and also the amount of travel that goes on, it takes a toll on the team and the players.

“Then you add international duty for a good mix of those guys, it's a lot to manage over the course of the year and still try to keep your team healthy and focused and competitive, and all of those other things that go along with it.”

Clubs who have enjoyed success the previous season, as Sporting did last year, also face even more crowded schedules and long road trips – but with the same roster and cap restrictions – in CONCACAF Champions League play.

“It's just more games,” Vermes said. “It's the schedule. The congestion of the schedule is a tough thing.”

The Supporters Shield, which goes to the side with the best regular-season record, would seem to be the hardest piece to earn – but that's not necessarily the case, Vermes said.

“Even MLS Cup is tough,” he said, “because you could be really good all year long – you could be the best team all year long – and then get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Each has its challenging aspects.”