This year’s new face is fast becoming a household name.
Krisztian Nemeth’s record-tying four-game goal-scoring streak played a big role in Sporting Kansas City’s third US Open Cup title and as a result, he was voted the TheCup.us Player of the Tournament.
Nemeth, nearing completion of his rookie year with Sporting, tallied five goals and one assist in the final four games in the tournament, including the game-tying goal in the 65th minute of the final. His goal output ties teammate Dom Dwyer for most goals and points (11) in the tournament. Dwyer notched four goals in the fifth round and added the fifth goal in the next.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters. Also, receiving strong consideration was Dwyer, who finished runner-up, and teammate Benny Feilhaber and Philadelphia Union goalkeeper John McCarthy for the honor.
“(The US Open Cup) is very difficult with all of the games in a short period of time,” said Nemeth about his impressions of the tournament. “But we said from the beginning that we were going to take the tournament seriously and that we wanted to win it. I think every game we showed that and we deserved to win the trophy.”
After not playing in Round 4, Nemeth entered the fifth round having scored seven goals on seven shots during league play. Making his US Open Cup debut against FC Dallas on July 1, he scored two goals on two shots to continue his hot streak.
That day, Sporting thrashed Dallas, 6-2, with Nemeth knocking in his first just before halftime. Nemeth then one-touched a Jacob Peterson cross to cap off a four-goal first half. Nemeth’s effort in the second half was more spectacular.
Less than a yard from the end line, Nemeth chipped a volley over FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz. The chip had just enough curl to get underneath the crossbar and over the goal line before Dallas could knock the ball away from its own net. Nemeth said it was the best goal he scored in the 2015 tournament.
The three-week break from the Open Cup did not deter Sporting and Nemeth. Having fallen behind to 10-man Houston, Sporting roared back with three goals in the final 10 minutes, including two goals Nemeth played a part in. The forward’s lone assist came on the game-winning goal in Kansas City’s quarterfinal win.
Receiving a ball in the attacking third, Nemeth had plenty of space to move the ball as he pleased. Before taking his touch, the Hungarian looked around and one-touched a pass into Dwyer. The Englishman slid his shot between Joe Willis’ legs for the go-ahead goal before returning the favor to Nemeth a couple minutes later.
Moving the ball from the right wing toward the center, Dwyer slotted the Hungarian through on net from 20 yards out. Nemeth’s shot, headed for the far corner, ricocheted off a Houston player and bounced into the open goal to make it 3-1.
Another 3-1 win sent Sporting into its third Open Cup title game. Its last 3-1 win came against 2013 runner-up Real Salt Lake. Nemeth’s goal was the team’s last, as he capitalized on a mistake from the RSL backline. The Hungarian collected the ball at the top of the penalty area, danced around goalkeeper Nick Rimando, and powered a rocket into the open net.
While the rest of his goals seemed to be the goal that shut the door, Nemeth’s tally in the championship game against the Philadelphia Union pushed the game into extra time and penalty kicks. A ball played on the ground from the right wing was helped on by Graham Zusi to Nemeth. The forward powered a low, curling effort just inside the far post for the equalizer. Even though Nemeth had his attempt saved, Sporting claimed the title in the eighth round of the penalty kick shootout.
“It was great experience, especially in the final,” said Nemeth about taking part in his first US Open Cup. “All of the home games were amazing and we thank all the fans for their support.
“The Salt Lake game was a special win because they are one of our rivals. It was an important win not only for our players but for the fans. The whole tournament was a great experience and I’m just happy to win another cup for the club.”
With that goal in the final, which Nemeth described as his most memorable goal of the competition, he joined a select group of players in the Modern Era (1995-present) who have scored a goal in four straight games. Diego Serna was the first with the Miami Fusion in 2000, followed by Herculez Gomez of the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2006. Last year, Kenny Cooper of the Seattle Sounders scored four straight en route to the club’s fourth title.
What was the key to the team’s offensive success?
“I think because it’s a single-elimination tournament, you put a little more into each game,” Nemeth said. “You don’t want to lose and have your tournament be over. We have very good players on the team and I think that showed during the tournament.”
Nemeth joins three teammates as 2015 award winners. Dom Dwyer (Round 5), Benny Feilhaber (semifinal) and Tim Melia (final) all earned Player of the Round honors. Nemeth is the first player in the modern era to win a US Open Cup award and the first Hungarian to lift the trophy.
“It was unbelievable,” said Nemeth, who finished with five goals and one assist and 11 points. “The team worked so hard to get to that point and it was great to be able to win the trophy for the team and for the fans.”
Past TheCup.us Player of the Tournament winners
2014: Kenny Cooper (Seattle Sounders FC)
2013: Dwayne De Rosario (DC United)
2012: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC)
2011: Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders FC)
2010: Nate Jaqua (Seattle Sounders FC)
2009: Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders FC)
2008: Chris Eylander (Seattle Sounders, USL)
2007: Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)
2006: Andy Herron (Chicago Fire)
Krisztian Nemeth: Post game interview
Highlights: 2015 US Open Cup Final
US Open Cup championship celebration
Sporting KC lifting the trophy
Sporting KC fans celebration/reaction
Sporting KC bring trophy back home (winners rally)