As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.
With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.
The acquisition of 29-year-old center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin represented one of Sporting Kansas City’s biggest splashes this offseason. The former French youth international boasts a wealth of experience in some of Europe’s top leagues and has competed in premier club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
In Isimat-Mirin hits the ground running in his debut MLS season, Sporting will almost certainly like their chances of contending among the Western Conference heavyweights in the months to come.
Over the last decade, Isimat-Mirin has logged 93 appearances each in France’s Ligue 1 (Valenciennes, Monaco and Toulouse) and the Dutch Eredivisie (PSV Eindhoven) while also featuring in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. He joins Sporting following a stint at Besiktas in the Turkish Super Lig and has upwards of 250 professional matches under his belt.
Isimat-Mirin’s best stint came with PSV Eindhoven, where he won three Eredivisie titles in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18. Prior to playing in the Netherlands, he represented France at the U-20 and U-21 levels and plied his club trade for both Valenciennes and Monaco. After his Eindhoven spell, he signed for Turkish giants Besiktas in 2019 and spent the first half of the 2019-20 campaign on loan at French side Toulouse.
Understandably, the pandemic wreaked havoc on Isimat-Mirin’s soccer experience in 2020. His loan stint at Toulouse ended last February, days before COVID-19 paused professional soccer for months. Besiktas kicked off the 2020-21 season last fall, but by then Isimat-Mirin was already eying a move abroad. He found exactly that in the form of an opportunity in Major League Soccer.
The fact that Isimat-Mirin has taken the No. 5 jersey suggests he has an integral defensive role to play in Sporting’s squad. Given the recent departures of Matt Besler and Winston Reid, the club’s top-choice center back pairing is up in the air. Isimat-Mirin will join the likes of Andreu Fontas, Roberto Puncec and Graham Smith in a bid to earn a starting spot during the upcoming training camp in Arizona. If his pedigree offers any indication, Isimat-Mirin will be capable of doing exactly that.
In Isimat-Mirin’s 93 Eredivisie appearances from 2014-2018, PSV Eindhoven won three league titles and posted a 72-6-15 record. The defender took part in only six league losses over the course of four seasons.
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Did You Know?
While playing with his first professional club in France, Valenciennes, Isimat-Mirin featured for France during 2013 UEFA European U-21 Championship qualifying. He struck a center back partnership alongside future FIFA World Cup winner Raphael Varane as Les Bleus finished atop their qualifying group.