Krisztian Nemeth knew heading into 2019 that this could be a big year for him. Perhaps the most important year of his career.
After leaving Sporting Kansas City in 2015, Nemeth spent the past three years playing sporadically in Qatar and New England before finally returning to Kansas City last summer. The second half of 2018 didn’t go as planned, though. He played just 386 minutes across nine appearances for SKC in MLS play, scoring one goal and earning one assist.
2019 couldn’t have started any different.
Nemeth started off the preseason on fire with a team-leading five goals before scoring the first goal of the year for Sporting KC in a meaningful match, kicking off a 3-0 dismantling of Toluca F.C. in Concacaf Champions League play. After an offseason of fans questioning whether the 30-year-old Hungarian would be able to recapture his 2015 form, it was a perfect beginning.
“It’s important to start the season like that. I’m happy for sure,” Nemeth said.
The Hungarian recently told the Kansas City Star that he’s looking at 2019 as a “fresh start.” He certainly looked more comfortable on the field than he did at any point in Qatar, with New England, or last year with SKC.
In particular, Nemeth and winger Gerso Fernandes seemed to play off each other particularly well throughout the night. Gerso earned the assist on Nemeth’s first goal, and nearly earned a second when Nemeth put an early second half chance just to the left of the post.
“The whole preseason, Johnny, Gerso, Daniel, and I, the four of us can really play together really well,” Nemeth said. “I’m happy to show that.”
“[Nemeth] was here last year, and we’ve been working together the last five weeks,” said Gerso. “I already know what he wants from me, and he knows what I want from him. It’s easy to play with him.”
Despite his perfect start, Nemeth still thinks there’s plenty of room for improvement in his game. He was just inches away from a legendary hat trick performance were it not for two chances that went barely wide.
“The first one I thought the [Toluca defender] was going to head it, so I wasn’t ready for it,” Nemeth said. “I saw the ball in the last second. I tried to react somehow and the ball came to my hips.
The second chance in the second half I thought it was going to be a goal, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I have to be sharper and finish those chances.”
Nemeth and Sporting KC will next travel to Mexico to face Toluca in the second leg of the CCL matchup, followed by the first MLS league match against LAFC just three days later at Banc of California stadium in Los Angeles.
Will he be able to keep up his goal-scoring form that started in the preseason and carried over into Thursday night’s game? ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman thinks he just might.
For now, Nemeth and Sporting KC are just trying to stay focused on the task at hand and advance to the next round of the Champions League.
“It’s not over yet. It’s just one game in the season,” he said. “We have a lot of games. We have to still work hard, and results will come this year for us.”