Mateusz Klich showing his Premier League class in MLS for DC United
The Polish midfielder has put in some excellent performances on American soil since his move from Premier League Leeds United.
I recently watched a frankly terrifying video of a humanoid robot on social media that stared deeply into the eyes of the person who built it before placing a slightly-too-aggressive robot hand on their arm as the creator tried to tap the machine on the nose. The silicon eyebrows furled and the grey lips pursed together in what a human would perceive as disgust and rejection. To be honest, it was so unnerving I haven’t been able to think about much else since.
It did remind me, once I picked up my laptop and started to type, that a lot of footballers follow quite robotic movements in the few moments of the week that we see them. If it is not from inside a stately mansion or a $100,000 dollar car, the players are behind a barrier in a state-of-the-art training ground or on the pitch for 90 minutes to run around.
Footballers are like robots, but not Klich
In between times, we may see them in interviews, where they are, quite conveniently for the opening theme of this piece, robotic in their response. They come down to earth where we all live, answer 90 seconds of questions, before being beamed up, back into the untouchable, alternate reality in which they reside.
DC United’s Mateusz Klich is not one of these robots. He is a footballer, yes, but also very obviously - and almost uniquely in this world - a human being. For starters, his online presence is one way of knowing that he definitely passes the opposite of an Alan Turing test; from telling a critic to ‘f*** off’ to writing a genuinely heartfelt letter to the club’s fans - not a hastily typed-up note on his iPhone - showed the heart of the person, not the sportsman.
He’s not just good at being a person, but also a footballer
He has declared an avid interest in graffiti, and even painted a mural on the wall outside the Leeds United stadium in honour of winning the Championship title in the 2019-20 season. The number 43 played 92 consecutive games for Leeds United as they won the second division, only dropping out of the side after sealing promotion with a hangover.
Since his move to DC United from Leeds in the Premier League, the midfielder shown that he is also a very good footballer. On his debut he scored a fantastic solo goal against Toronto FC, taking the ball on halfway and driving forward before unleashing a shot from long-range that rifled into the bottom corner. And, against Columbus Crew, a game that DC United lost, Klich created a total of 7 chances, the most in any MLS game this season. He also led the way across the MLS in Match week 2 for key passes, final third passes, progressive passes (number & distance) and passes into the box.
Yes, at the beginning I did indeed compare Mateusz Klich to a robot, but one that appears to seek to be human, at least more than all the footballers who seek to be as robotic as possible before leaving us to imagine what they’re really like. There are plenty of surprises with Klich, which is what makes him a fascinating person as well as a footballer. For some, an all-too-soon goodbye came at Leeds in a difficult season for the club, but now it is time to enjoy what he has to offer in MLS.