FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Wednesday night’s deadline deal to acquire forward Krisztian Nemeth was finalized at the 11th hour, but it was a move that the New England Revolution had been working on for weeks prior to securing a trade with Columbus Crew SC.
“It was done at the wire,” said Revolution General Manager Michael Burns, “but it was discussed well before the wire.”
Talks between the Revs and Crew SC began approximately four-to-six weeks ago, according to Burns, but “it was all just speculation” until Nemeth actually terminated his contract with Qatari club Al-Gharafa and signed a deal with Major League Soccer.
Nemeth eventually did put pen to paper on an MLS contract on Wednesday night, and the Revs beat out multiple other suitors to acquire the Hungarian striker, who was officially selected by Crew SC in the allocation ranking and then sent to New England for both general and targeted allocation money, and an international roster spot.
It’s no surprise that Nemeth was in high demand; the 28-year-old striker has a proven track record both internationally and in MLS, where he scored 10 goals and added six assists in 28 regular-season appearances with Sporting Kansas City in 2015.
That familiarity with MLS and success in the league made Nemeth a prime target for the Revs, who were looking for an impact player to step in right away and help them close the six-point gap that currently separates them from the playoff places in the Eastern Conference.
“We were looking to add another attacking player, and the fact that he has not just played in this league, but has had success in this league, absolutely was an important piece of it,” said Burns.
While Nemeth does still need to acquire his International Transfer Certificate before he can officially be added to the roster, Burns said the Revs expect him to arrive “by the beginning of next week, at the latest,” allowing him to jump into training immediately.
When he does begin training, head coach Jay Heaps sees Nemeth fitting into multiple different positions within the Revolution’s attacking setup, noting that he can play across a front three, as a striker in a two-forward setup, or as a withdrawn forward in a more dynamic formation.
“That’s critical that we have that type of attacking option that’s versatile across multiple positions, and one that we think has a proven record in the league,” said Heaps. “There’s going to be great competition and minutes will be spread to the players that are playing well.”
Nemeth joins an attacking corps that features a wealth of veteran options, including Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez, Kei Kamara, Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe.
Finding minutes for all of those players is a “problem” that the Revs are happy to figure out.
“It just got more competitive,” said Burns. “It got more competitive for players to start, for players to earn minutes. That’s a great problem for us and the coaching staff to have.”
“There’s nothing better than fighting for it on the field and letting the guys that are producing continue to play, and the guys that come in and get an opportunity and produce, they play,” Heaps added. “We want to see that in training, we want to see that in games, with players pushing each other.”
On the same day that the Nemeth deal was officially announced, fellow newcomer Claude Dielna trained with his new teammates for the first time. Both players are expected to compete for starting minutes in the immediate future – Dielna likely at center back, Nemeth across the forward line – and they’ll provide a welcome boost for a Revolution side looking for a spark entering the final 12 games of the season.
“The fact that we were able to bring in two players, and we didn’t have to give up any players to get these players, I think was important to add to our roster and add to the competitiveness that we want to create for all positions on the field,” said Burns.
“I think we’ve strengthened the group,” added Heaps. “Ideally we’d have 20 more games left, but we have 12 left, so the margins for getting these players in and getting them acclimated is going to be tight. We have to be mindful of how quickly we can push them, but also, the [stretch run of] the season is upon us pretty quickly.”