Arnaud leaves Kansas City to pursue new challenge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Davy Arnaud and Sporting Kansas City parted on amicable terms Monday after a decade of mutual commitment.

There were no public squabbles. No finger-pointing or perceived slights. Discreetly, Sporting and the Montreal Impact came together to negotiate a deal that suited everyone involved, sending Arnaud to Quebec on Monday in exchange for Seth Sinovic and allocation money.

In a phone conversation with MLSsoccer.com on Monday evening, Arnaud said the timing was right to him to move on, even if leaving behind the only professional club he’s ever known wasn’t easy.

“I’ve developed great relationships here with the fans, people in the city, the owners, the staff and the players,” Arnaud said. “It’s tough. In terms of that, it’s very tough. In an ideal world, you would stay in the same place your whole career and be playing the exact role you want to play all the time.”

Arnaud started 16 games for manager Peter Vermes in 2011 and played 1,536 minutes, his lowest totals since 2003, breaking a string of seven straight seasons in which he made at least 22 starts while averaging 27.

For a competitor like Arnaud, who is still just 31 despite a decade of experience, that simply wasn’t enough, even if much of the summer was lost to a sports hernia operation. Montreal expressed interest, Kansas City was looking to reacquire Sinovic, Arnaud was open to a new opportunity and the rest is history.

“It all kind of started the Expansion Draft,” said Arnaud, who has captained the team for the past two seasons. “Even before that, Peter and I had some discussions at the end of the year. Around the Expansion Draft time, I found out Montreal had been in contact, had a real interest and felt they could use a player like me if I had any interest. When you hear that and some of the discussions that were had, I think it was probably a good time for me to move onto a new challenge.”

Unlike some, the veteran midfielder should feel right at home in French-speaking Quebec as well.

Arnaud lived in France briefly when he was growing up, and has continued to spend time there as his mother, stepfather and younger brother and sister still live there.

“I don’t speak [French] as well as I did before, but I’ve got a little bit,” he said. “I can get by, and I’m going to try to do that as much as I can because that’s obviously a big part of their culture. I want to be able to do it, I want my wife to be able to do it and my kids, too.”

And apart from the city and culture itself, it certainly didn’t hurt that Arnaud had some specifics on which to base his decision. Jack Jewsbury, a close friend and former teammate, went through a similar experience as the captain of the Portland Timbers during their expansion season in 2011 following a trade from Kansas City.

Like Jewsbury, Arnaud will be expected to bring leadership and guidance to a group facing the rigors of an MLS season for the first time. And like Jewsbury, who had a career year in 2011, he said he believes his best may still lie ahead.

“I feel really good,” Arnaud said.” I feel like I still have a lot of contribute; that I can still be a main guy in a team. I think this next year and the year after could be my best years in the league. I really believe that.”