BRADENTON, Fla. – The prevailing theme of the New England Revolution’s 2018 preseason is the sense of a fresh start under head coach Brad Friedel, and perhaps no one on the Revolution roster could benefit from that clean slate more than Krisztián Németh.
The 29-year-old forward battled through a tumultuous 2017, missing extended time through injury before moving from Qatari club Al-Gharafa SC to the Revolution in mid-August. Németh then struggled with another injury upon joining the Revs, limiting him to just six appearances and 177 total minutes, hampering his ability to settle into the squad.
An ill-advised early red card in his first start with the Revolution only compounded matters, and Németh admits he was delighted to see the calendar flip to 2018 and move past a maddening year.
“It was difficult, because I was not prepared,” Németh said of his rollercoaster arrival in New England. “I came here and I just jumped into the middle of the season. It was really hard.
“I can’t wait for this preseason, because now I feel I can work hard. My fitness level and everything is going back up, and I hope this is going to be my season.”
Frustrating though they may have been, the two months Németh spent in New England last season served a valuable purpose, as the Hungarian international now has a familiarity with his teammates and the support staff, and he’s already settled into a home in the area.
“Now I can just concentrate on training,” Németh said.
Maximum concentration will be necessary with Friedel at the helm, as the Revolution’s new leader will spend the preseason period implementing fresh ideas and instilling a high-energy style of play. Every training session will be crucial as the Revs build throughout the next five weeks towards early March.
It’s clear, as well, that Németh has a massive role to play in that process, and Friedel sees plenty of promise in the striker who bagged his first Revolution goal in last year’s season finale.
“We’re expecting big things from him,” said Friedel, who called Németh a “technically very gifted” player. “If he keeps himself fit and healthy, and he works hard, I think he’s going to find himself in the team quite often.
“Any time you have a player of his quality in the squad, you’re going to want to try to maximize that potential. I hope he plays a lot and I hope he scores a lot of goals for us.”
Németh has similar ambition, but his individual objectives are intertwined with the team’s aspirations, and this year he wants to make sure that any goals he scores are helping push the Revs up the standings.
“First, I always think about the team, so the first target must be a playoff position,” Németh said. “I try to score goals and help the team reach the playoffs.”