FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – 2015 was a special year for Krisztian Nemeth, one in which he posted 17 goals and seven assists across all competitions for Sporting Kansas City.
Now, after spending the 2016 season at Qatari club Al Gharafa, he’s back in Major League Soccer and said after the New England Revolution’s training session on Monday that his body of work is only just beginning.
“It was a good year playing from the left side, but definitely I have more for sure,” Nemeth told MLSsoccer.com. “That year was just the first year. It was different adjusting to the culture and league, but I have the experience of playing in many countries so I have acclimated fast and can make it. That’s one good part. It’s easy for me to join this team.”
In joining the Revs, Nemeth’s biggest initial obstacle will be achieving game fitness. He last played a competitive match in March and said in “a few weeks” he should return to 100 percent, as he was recently in preseason with his Qatari club.
Once he reaches that point, the 28-year-old is excited – not discouraged – by the attacking glut New England boasts. He highlighted Kei Kamara, a forward who also previously played in Kansas City, as someone he’s eager to link up with.
“I love to play with good players, it’s the best thing to do,” Nemeth said. “I’m looking forward to it and hope as soon as possible I’m nearing fitness and can be on the field with them.”
To acquire Nemeth, New England executed a sign-and-trade agreement with Columbus Crew SC, a move that prompted debate as to where he would land. Reports from The Kansas City Star said there was interest from his former MLS club, an assertion Nemeth himself echoed on Monday at Gillette Stadium, noting, “I don’t want to lie, yes, [Kansas City] was one option.”
But now that he’s in New England, he said that wants to “show my best for the club” and reward them for their faith in sending $400,000 in allocation money Columbus’ way to secure his services. He’ll be one of the five players the Revs have used Targeted Allocation Money on, and added that all along it was a dream of his to return to MLS.
“I always knew when I left from Kansas that I wanted to come back to the league because I loved it, I loved every second of it,” Nemeth said. “My style of play fits well, so that was a big help.”
Before arriving in MLS, Nemeth got a crash course in the Qatari league, an environment which he said has a higher level than most realize, mostly as they invest financial resources ahead of hosting the 2022 World Cup.
The one part he joked that he won't miss, though, is Qatar’s oppressive heat.
“The weather was crazy humid,” Nemeth said. “I came back from there one week ago, and it was [115, 120] degrees. That was the hardest part for sure.”
And now the question surrounding Nemeth is when he’ll first play for the Revs, a side 3-1-0 in its last four games and looking to squeak into the playoffs. When asked about Nemeth’s potential role, coach Jay Heaps said it’s “too early to tell on complete match fitness” and that he should know more once they play 11-a-side in training.
But once that comes around, Heaps has no doubt that Nemeth will fit like a glove.
“The one thing that you don’t just know with someone is how they’re going to fit into a group,” Nemeth said. “For me, that I was what I was really excited to watch today, to see his interactions with players.
“When we talked about positioning and where we see him, his willingness to do whatever to help the team stood out,” Heaps added. “I love those conversations. Every player has a position they feel most comfortable in, but what you love about Krisztian is his willingness to do anything for the team.”