New York City FC will be the newest club to compete in Major League Soccer this season. Backed by the financial clout of the City Football Group the team, based temporarily at Yankee Stadium, announced the signing of giants like David Villa and Frank Lampard in past months.
Additionally another player arrived, to considerably less fanfare, a 29-year-old experienced striker from Slovakia.
Adam Nemec joins from a relatively unsuccessful period in Germany’s second tier at Union Berlin, whose management were seemingly angry of his frequent departures due to participation in the international matches.
Nemec was accused of absence in one of Union’s matches, although he was not in the squad selected for that game. Union shifted him into reserve team and told him that he was free to find a new employer.
Talks with New York City FC began in the first days of December and, at first, Nemec refused their offer. But then, after a change of heart, he agreed a contract and will be only the second Slovak player in North-American Major League Soccer after Ľubomír Reiter, the former Chicago Fire forward.
Nemec started his professional career in Dubnica, a tiny club from the north-west of Slovakia. Afterwards, he transferred to Žilina and where he was regarded as one of the best attacking players in Slovak league.
In 2007/2008 newspapers uncovered an agreement about his loan to German Erzgebirge Aue, while he was also associated with move to Scotland few months later. In addition to a spell with Genk, in Belgian, he played for three more German sides – 1.FC Kaiserslautern, Ingolstadt and before-mentioned Union Berlin.
In the last four years, Slovakia have a big problem with the position of centre forward. Róbert Vittek, who scored four times on World Cup 2010 in South Africa, has been held back by a near endless string of injuries. New coach Jan Kozák had previously disregarded the 6.3ft striker, but ultimately decided to give him a chance.
Kozák has relied on 4-2-3-1 system with Nemec up front, in front of technically-gifted players like Marek Hamšík, Vladimír Weiss jr., Miroslav Stoch or Róbert Mak. Nemec’s task was to make a space for these teammates.
And this model works – Slovakia won all four qualifying matches in the spring, including home victory 2-1 against Spain in addition to away wins in Ukraine, Belarus and Macedonia. Slovakia is on the road to France in 2016, but if Nemec wants to be a part of this team, he has to play for a club regularly. New York City FC is a good chance for him to fulfil these plans.
This year will be a very difficult one for Nemec. Slovakian journalists are wary of Nemec’s travelling and time distances, as it is unusual to have a representative in America for Slovak football. Suggestions have been that, eventually he would have to decide between the national team or club loyalties.
New York City FC has obtained a physically strong player, known by his typical playing style, which could be simply described as ‘workhorse-esqe’. Nemec, the traditional old-fashioned striker, is good in the air, tall, strong, manages to control the long balls and hold onto possession with his back to goal.
On the flip side, he lacks confidence in front of goal. Moreover, he is not very fast. New Yorkers may not be expecting a high number of goals from Nemec, but his high work rate should compliment the more cultured talents of David Villa.
It remains to be seen what impact he will have, but Major League Soccer looks like it could be the ideal league for Nemec to make a name for himself.