Sporting Kansas City-FCC Preview
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.
Coming off a hat trick in Sporting's 7-1 demolition of Montreal last Saturday, Nemeth tries to continue his torrid pace Sunday when KC visits FC Cincinnati.
Nemeth became the first Hungarian with three goals in MLS history and Johnny Russell added two scores as Sporting became the fifth team in league history with seven or more goals in a single game.
"From the opening whistle until the very end, the commitment of the group with the ball and without the ball, the desire to get into the box if we were getting ready to serve it, the desire to win the ball back when we lost it - it was fantastic," KC coach Peter Vermes said.
Nemeth has eight goals in seven games across all competitions so far this season, with four in MLS and four more in CONCACAF Champions League play.
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, 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."
SKC dropped the first leg of the CCL semifinals at Monterrey 5-0 on Thursday, and now turns its attention back toward the MLS schedule. Since a season-opening loss at LAFC, KC (2-1-1) has gone unbeaten in its last three MLS matches.
FC Cincinnati (2-1-2) has had a solid start in its inaugural MLS season and was coming off consecutive wins before last Saturday's 2-0 loss to visiting Philadelphia in soggy conditions.
Sunday's match will mark the fifth in six contests against 2018 playoff teams for the Blue and Orange.
"We've had some ups and downs and I think we knew we were going to have some tough moments during the course of the season," coach Alan Koch said. "We've also had some very big positive moments. It's been a roller-coaster start and its going to continue to be a roller coaster as we go through the next few months."
Koch's club is proving to be strong defensively with two shutouts and seven goals allowed across five matches. That form will keep the expansion side in most games but generating offense could be an issue with no player tallying more than one goal thus far.
Cincinnati will be without forward Fanendo Adi after he was suspended while MLS investigates his citations for speeding and impaired driving.
Updated April 5, 2019