Krisztian Nemeth’s start this season for Sporting Kansas City could be characterized as a comeback in so many different ways.
He’s back as a center forward, a position where he’s most comfortable. He’s healthy after last season ended with injury and frustration. And he’s finally rooted in a club where he got his MLS start.
So, yes, it’s kind of a revival for the 30-year-old Hungarian striker.
“I was like, ‘OK. Forget the last season, it was not that good, not what I expected, I had this (health) problem and I changed clubs.’ So I said, I have to be positive,” he said.
Nemeth is coming off a hat trick in Sporting’s 7-1 demolition of the Montreal Impact last Saturday. He’s got eight goals in seven games across all competitions so far this season: four in Major League Soccer and four in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Sporting has advanced to the CCL semifinals for the first time, the lone MLS team remaining. They’ll be in Mexico on Thursday night to face Monterrey in the first leg. The Liga MX side is a considerable opponent, having won the tournament title three times.
Nemeth enjoyed his best season in MLS in 2015 with Kansas City. He scored 16 goals and had seven assists over all competitions and won the league’s Goal of the Year.
He was transferred to a club in Qatar in 2016 but returned to MLS the next year with the New England Revolution, then last August he was traded back to Kansas City. At the time, Sporting was still trying to figure out how to replace Dom Dwyer, who was traded to Orlando the year before.
Upon Nemeth’s return, Sporting coach Peter Vermes said: “Make no mistake about it, he is going to bring different qualities than what we currently have. And I think once that familiarity gets understood between the current players we have, I think you’re going to see some very special moments on the field from our club.”
But Nemeth was hampered by injury at the end of last season, resulting in offseason hernia surgery.
He said Wednesday that many things have gone into his success this season, including a productive preseason, as well as good assists from his teammates. But it was also a change in attitude.
“I have a lot of ups and downs in my career. So I know when I’m down sometimes, I have to work harder,” he said. “So that was my mindset, just don’t get down and concentrate on the positive things. So I did.”
Nemeth’s hat trick came on his 50th appearance with the club. Johnny Russell added two goals and Sporting became the fifth team in league history with seven or more goals in a single game. Collectively, Sporting has 11 goals through their first four games.
NOT THE ONLY ONE: Carlos Vela also had three goals in LAFC’s 5-0 blanking of the San Jose Earthquakes in a weekend that featured 42 goals across the league. MLS is averaging 3.2 goals per game this season.
Vela’s hat trick earned him Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Speaking of goals, it could get crazy on Saturday when Vela and LAFC visit D.C. United.
Vela has six goals in five games so far this season to lead the league, while United’s Wayne Rooney is tied for second with four goals in four games. Nemeth and Houston’s Memo Rodriguez, both have four, too. Vela also has three assists.
United is undefeated at 3-0-1 this season, as is LAFC (4-0-1), which leads the way early in the Supporters’ Shield race. Los Angeles also has 15 goals through its first five games to lead the league.
By the way, there are five unbeaten teams left in MLS: In addition to LAFC and D.C. United, there’s Toronto, the Houston Dynamo and the Seattle Sounders.
PANENKA PARTY: Two of the goals over the weekend were panenka penalties, those off-speed shots right down the middle. Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic made one (of two successful PKs) in a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers on Sunday, while Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo had the other in the Reds’ 4-0 win over NYCFC on Friday.
ADI SUSPENEDED: Expansion side FC Cincinnati will be without its striker for the foreseeable future after Fanendo Adi was suspended by the league Tuesday pending assessment under the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program.
Adi was stopped for speeding and cited for operating a vehicle impaired, or OVI, but the Ohio State Patrol on Sunday.
THIS AND THAT: Colorado signed 16-year-old defender Sebastian Anderson to a homegrown player contract. He’s the youngest homegrown signing in Rapids history. … The Philadelphia Union is holding a contest where the winner will get to have input in the design for the team’s uniforms for 2021. The winner will be selected from among fans who post pictures of themselves with the hashtag #unionsuperfan on social media. The team’s website has details.