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31 for 31: The transfer of Krisztian Nemeth

The transfer of Sporting KC winger Krisztian Nemeth was unexpected, and it hurt.

MLS: Sporting KC at Portland Timbers
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

This is part 6 of a 31 part series looking at the 31 biggest stories in 2016 in Kansas City Soccer.Click the 31 for 31 group link above or here for all the stories.

It happened so quickly.

Within about 12 hours, Sporting Kansas City fans went from expecting a strong presence on the wing to that presence being sent to Qatar in exchange for a little under $3 million.

On January 29, Krisztian Nemeth was transferred to Al-Gharafa SC in Qatar and this changed the 2016 Sporting Kansas City season significantly. Nemeth was coming off a spectacular season in 2015 with the club, scoring 14 goals and assisting seven in all competitions. He won MLS Goal of the Year for this incredible run shown below.

In 2016, Nemeth was likely to miss a significant portion of the summer to play for Hungary in the Euros, so Sporting KC bolstered the winger depth by adding Justin Mapp and Brad Davis in the offseason. Sporting Kansas City was looking pretty good from an attacking standpoint with the preseason just around the corner.

Then that feeling started to change with a tweet from Dom Dwyer.

This was in conjunction with a source that said Nemeth was on his way to Qatar. What seemed to be a ridiculous possibility was picking up steam as the evening came around.

By 10 p.m. that evening, it was confirmed and Nemeth was on his way to Qatar. Suddenly, Sporting KC was very thin at center forward and thin on starting winger options.

The Nemeth transfer had big ramifications in 2016. Neither Brad Davis nor Justin Mapp could replace his production and Sporting KC had six fewer goals and assists in 2016 from the previous season.

The transfer wasn’t the end of the saga. A few days later, Nemeth posted a long Facebook post that talked in part about how he felt he wasn’t being paid enough and wasn’t among the best paid players on the team. Sporting KC CEO Robb Heinemann had said earlier in the offseason that Sporting KC would sell for the right deal, but also said about a month before the transfer that Nemeth was staying put. That added to the unexpectedness of it.

Nemeth has been successful with the transfer. He has 11 goals in 19 appearances for Al-Gharafa and has been steadily playing for Hungary with the Euros and 2018 World Cup qualifying. Sporting KC, on the other hand, is back to square one essentially. Davis and Mapp won’t be with the team in 2017, and the fate of wingers Cameron Porter and Jacob Peterson won’t be known until after the expansion draft.

Sporting KC is still in the market looking for a winger to replace Nemeth. While his tenure in Kansas City was short and his departure unexpected, he certainly left a hole when he left.