A year ago, French-born midfielder Yohan Croizet knew next to nothing about Sporting Kansas City. Any conversations he had with European-based teammates concerning Major League Soccer revolved around LA Galaxy, New York City FC and New York Red Bulls.
That narrative changed for Croizet last fall and into this winter, when he engaged in discussions with the Sporting KC technical staff about making a move to the United States. The 25-year-old had always dreamed of playing in MLS, and when he saw that his dream had become a realistic opportunity, he had a “simple” decision to make.
“I am very happy to be in Kansas City,” said Croizet, who officially signed as a Designated Player last month. “I am very impressed to see the stadium and the new training center.”
Croizet has scored 31 goals in more than 200 professional appearances across Europe. He joins Sporting KC after spending each of the last three seasons in the top-flight Belgian First Division A, where he has tallied 12 goals and 11 assists since 2015. He has played for KV Mechelen since 2016.
With Roger Espinoza and Ilie as the only two returning midfielders who started regularly for Sporting KC in 2017, Croizet is a likely candidate to assume playmaking responsibilities in the center of the pitch. And while it would be too soon to call him a junkyard dog just yet, that’s precisely how he describes his style.
“I like to dribble and to play fast. I like to press,” Croizet said. “My character is very strong on the field. Off the field I am very calm, but on the field I like to give my best for the team — like a dog, you know?”
That dogged approach figures to mesh well with the likes of workhorses Espinoza and Ilie. Tireless work rate is a staple for both players, although they go about their business differently. Espinoza is a midfield destroyer, winning possession and finding outlets in a demanding box-to-box role. Serving as the midfield fulcrum, Ilie manages the game with tactical nous, precise passing and a hint of Spanish finesse.
Croizet, on the other hand, could end up shouldering more responsibilities in the attacking third. His track record — having bagged nine goals with four assists during the 2015-16 campaign with OH Leuven — suggests he’s up to the task.