For nearly a decade, Sporting Kansas City has utilized nonconforming methods to construct its team. It’s a source of pride within the franchise, most noticeable in the form of player acquisitions, trades and transfers.
The latest example is an addition to the staff.
Meghan Cameron is set to join the Sporting KC front office as an assistant director of player personnel. Upon her official start date next week, she will be the first woman hired on the soccer side of Sporting Kansas City’s front office.
She will also become one of the highest-ranking females on a Major League Soccer technical staff, if not the highest.
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“It’s really exciting to be the first female to come into this role, but Peter (Vermes) didn’t call me because I’m a female. He hired me to do a job,” Cameron said in a phone interview with The Star this week. “I’m excited to open that door — people can see it doesn’t matter that I’m female.”
Cameron will complete a technical staff superintended by Vermes that also includes Brian Bliss, the club’s director of player personnel, and assistant coaches Kerry Zavagnin and Zoran Savic. Former assistant technical director Mike Jacobs was plucked away by Nashville, an MLS expansion hopeful, in October.
MLS clubs use varied terminology and employment titles to describe their front-office management. But there are no women currently in charge of technical operations. Sporting KC believes it will extend Cameron as much influence in roster construction as any other woman in MLS.
Cameron, 34, has spent the past seven-plus years working in the league office, most recently as a senior manager of player relations. Like her looming role in Kansas City, it was a job that included few other women.
“I’ve spent the last eight years being the only girl in meetings with a room full of 40 men. But I don’t think of it that way because they don’t treat me that way,” Cameron said. “I’ve always had the respect of the room. It’s never mattered to them.
“Besides, being a (New) Jersey girl, I have thick skin. I can give it back if I need to.”
The new employment will be comparable in its originality but also in responsibility.
In the MLS offices in New York, Cameron worked with a handful of assigned teams each season on their roster budgets, contracts, signing procedures, negotiations and the like. She was a league roster rules expert, making sure teams were navigating within the guidelines of the collective bargaining agreement.
One of her assigned teams was Sporting KC, which will initially task her with similar job duties. But eventually, Vermes said, Cameron will also partake in scouting and player identification. Cameron played three seasons at Rutgers.
“I think we’re bringing in somebody that has a lot of qualifications that will get her up to speed pretty quickly,” Vermes said. “She’s played the game. She gets it. And she knows the ins and outs of contracts, budgets, and all of that stuff. That’s been her world.”
The similarity in tasks offers Cameron a comfort level. As she prepared for a move from New York to Kansas City, she commented that she had “no nerves, no anxiety.”
But there will be some change, too. She has an invested interest in the wins and the losses. There’s a competition to the new gig that didn’t exist at the same level before. In that vein, it is a move she said she foresaw over the past couple of years. The when — and more importantly, where — were to be determined.
“Kansas City was the organization I wanted to be part of,” Cameron said. “With what Peter has built there, along with their ownership, it made it an easy decision for me in terms of professional development. I learned so much in the league office in terms of the tools I need for this job. It was the right time. I just needed the right place.”