FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Before the start of MLS’ summer transfer window, one of New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns' priorities was to sign an attacking player.
At the 11th hour, he did just that, landing forward Krisztian Nemeth hours before the window closed on Wednesday via trade with Columbus Crew SC. The Eastern Conference foes had been engaged in such conversations for the last “four to six weeks,” though their discussions got more serious when the Hungarian mutually terminated his contract with Qatari club Al-Gharafa on Wednesday night.
Shortly after, the 28-year-old signed with MLS and entered the allocation process, in which Columbus held the top spot. New England, in the second slot, orchestrated a move whereby Nemeth would sign with Crew SC and be sent to the Revs. New England sent $200,000 in 2018 Targeted Allocation Money, $200,000 in 2018 General Allocation Money and an international spot through the 2018 season to Crew SC in exchange for Nemeth, who recorded 10 goals and six assists with Sporting Kansas City in 2015.
“He’s a player who has experience, both playing for Hungary and a player who’s had success in MLS,” Burns told MLSsoccer.com. “That was a big factor and mattered a lot to us that he’s been in this country, been in this league, had success in this league. We feel like he can play in the prime of his career, that he can play up top, play out wide and he’s versatile.”
In their quest to acquire Nemeth, New England competed with interest from “multiple other [MLS] clubs" and now holds the No. 1 spot in the allocation order through the end of the 2017 season. That could play into the Revs’ advantage ahead of the Sept. 15 roster freeze date, Burns said, as they’re interested in signing someone in what’s a “fluid process and fluid situation.”
Revs head coach Jay Heaps was excited by what Nemeth could bring to his squad during a playoff push. Heaps said he envisions the 2015 Goal of the Year winner playing anywhere across a three-man front line, as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation and underneath a forward as a “hybrid” No. 10.
“For me, it’s critical that we have that type of attacking option across multiple positions and he’s one we think has a proven record in the league,” Heaps said. “Now there’s going to be great competition and minutes will be spread to the players who are playing well.”
Those minutes, however, could be spread thin for a side already boasting attacking pieces such as Kei Kamara, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen. Presented with that potential quandary, Heaps and Burns both said they’re not worried about being too top-heavy, rather that the situation will bring out each player’s best.
The signing, furthermore, comes at a time when the Revs are on the outside of the playoff picture. Mindful of that, the Revs also recently inked Claude Dielna, a French center back who was last under contract with Sheffield Wednesday of the English Championship.
He’ll be a Designated Player and Nemeth a TAM signing, with Heaps saying he feels the Revs are in a better place now that the window has closed.
“Ideally we’d have 20 more games left, but we have 12 left,” he said. “The margins for getting these players in and getting them acclimated is going to be tight. We have to mindful of how quickly we can push them, but also the fact that the season is upon us pretty quickly.”
Those impacts will have to wait, though, as Dielna said Thursday that he likely won’t be ready until the Revs visit New York City FC on Aug. 20. Nemeth, meanwhile, isn’t yet in New England, but hopes are high that he’ll have an immediate impact.
And judging by his solid 2015 season with SKC, he could do just that.
“I think without question our team is stronger today than it was two weeks ago,” Burns said. “We’ve added two players who we feel can make an impact and be impactful players for us.”