Tensions were high and the temperatures were low when Jerome Thiesson arrived in Minnesota. The 29-year-old Swiss fullback, brought in from FC Luzern in the Swiss Super League, touched down in the frigid March week between losses to the Portland Timbers (5-1 on the road) and Atlanta United (6-1 in the home opener).
Thiesson impressed from the beginning of his tenure here, the start of his first training session. As members of the media stood shivering while Thiesson’s new teammates scrimmaged on the TCF Bank pitch, the new arrival made his way through the onlookers, introducing himself to each one. It was just a simple, “Hi, I’m Jérôme”, followed by a genuine, “Thank you.” when he was welcomed, but it served as a sign of the class now expected from him.
Jérôme Thiesson has been consistent, to say the least. He is tied with Christian Ramirez for the most starts in Major League Soccer games (14) for Minnesota United. His performances in those games have been just as reliable. His worst performance of the season, according to whoscored.com, came in the home loss to LA Galaxy. A look back at the recap of the match shows that nobody was terribly frustrated with his performance.
Harrison Afful of the Columbus Crew is considered one of the best right-backs in MLS. Comparing him statistically with Jérôme Thiesson reveals that the Loons’ fullback may be better than many think. Thiesson makes twice as many clearances per game as Afful and almost three times as many tackles. The two are equal in pass completion percentage, but while Thiesson commits more fouls per match, he also is better at sending long balls to offensive players farther up the pitch.
Jerome Thiesson/Harrison Afful Comparison
|Aerial Duels Won*||1.1||0.8|
|Pass Completion %||80||80.1|
There are, of course, intangibles that cannot be reliably tracked during a soccer game. Thiesson excels in these areas as well. Most of the time, he finds the right balance of involvement in attacking play and defensive responsibilities, something that can be tricky for other fullbacks. In attack, he has a sense of where to make dangerous runs down the flank, even if he isn’t passed to.
On the field, Jérôme Thiesson has been the type of player Minnesota United needs. Off the field, he has been an entertaining Twitter presence for fans. Check out some of his best:
Since his arrival on a frigid Wednesday in March, Jérôme Thiesson has been nothing but a consistently classy player for the Loons, and one who has been underrated and underappreciated by many fans, but not this one.