PURCHASE, N.Y. – Everything is brand new for Maxime Chanot: new country, new league, new teammates.
None of that has fazed the Luxembourg international, who earned MLS Team of the Week honors after making his first start for New York City FC in a scoreless away draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday.
“I heard about this. It’s always a pleasure to hear good news like that, but to be honest the most important is the team at the moment,” Chanot said. “I’m happy to get introduced to the team. I was a little bit disappointed about the result of the game, because we came on the pitch to win that game and finally we just draw.”
Chanot has had no time to get acclimated to the newest phase of his career. On July 30, less than 48 hours after arriving in New York, he made his MLS debut as a halftime sub in a 5-1 home victory over the Colorado Rapids because of an injury to Jefferson Mena.
A week later, he earned his first start against the Earthquakes.
“It’s always not easy when you come into a club, especially when you change countries like that,” Chanot said. “My first week was not easy because obviously we had to do so much paperwork and stuff like that. But the club helped me so much with this, so it makes my life easier.”
Chanot is adjusting to more than changes in culture and time zone. He also must adapt to a new style of possession-based soccer and playing out of the back under new manager Patrick Vieira.
“It’s new for me. I want to be honest with you, it’s a new part of play, but I like it,” Chanot said. “It is the new football now. We stopped playing the long ball. I’m feeling good, feeling comfortable with this. I spoke a lot to the coach, to the players who explained how it’s working and I think it’s working well. I’m feeling good about this.”
Before coming to New York, Chanot said he did his homework on the league, watching between 10-12 matches and speaking to current and former teammate Frédéric Brillant, with whom he played in 2013 at now-defunct Belgian side Beerschot AC. Chanot also reached out to two Belgians playing in MLS, Montreal's Laurent Ciman and the LA Galaxy's Jelle Van Damme.
“They only told me good things about MLS,” Chanot said. “They told me it’s a good league. I’m not surprised about the level of the league. I’m happy to be here, happy to choose this league and to choose this club. I’m sure I made a good choice.”
Vieira said NYCFC identified the need for a central defender and narrowed a list of about 20 players to three before reaching a consensus.
“When we decided to go for Maxime," he said, "everybody agreed and we were all on the same page."
Vieira said he isn’t surprised Chanot has made an immediate impact with NYCFC, but he is hesitant to heap too much praise on the club’s lone addition during the summer transfer window.
“We are pleased to have him in our club, but it is just one game,” Vieira said. “He may play the next one really bad, but that’s not going to change our mind and the decision we make to bring him here. He’s a competitor, a defender and for us he will bring something more to the team.”