Photo: Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports
Yesterday, I had a chat with Minnesota United defender Jerome Thiesson. It was a great experience for me as he was an all around nice person. Also, I would like to say congrats to his newborn! Here’s the Q & A:
Before moving to Minnesota, you spent your whole professional career in your native country Switzerland. Do you ever feel homesick?
“Well, of course I miss the people. My people – like family and friends. But in our times, we are so spoiled. We can live thousands of miles apart, but our technology makes it possible to still see each other! My dad came from France to live in Switzerland and didn’t have these possibilities to keep in touch. Also, I’ve been here for six months and this time has been all about excitement, getting to know the people and learn about the area, so I haven’t had time to feel homesick. Right now, my family is here visiting us for three weeks, and already friends have visited. Of course, that helps too. In the future, I will definitely focus on what I have here – which is a lot – rather than what I’m missing from home.”
What made you want to become a professional soccer player?
“As a little boy, I just wanted to play! Everything! Outside with other children and soccer quickly became my favorite sport. The fact that mama didn’t want me to play in or on grass because I had an allergy made soccer perhaps even more interesting for me, too. Yeah, if your favorite thing to do – playing soccer – offers you the possibility to live from it, you just have to try everything to make it happen.”
Where do you see your career with Minnesota United?
“I am 30 now (omg it’s official) … So yeah, I’m definitely not at the beginning of my career anymore. I always dreamed of playing abroad in a bigger league than the Swiss Super League and I’m very happy and proud I could accomplish that by moving to MNUFC. The league is definitely bigger. I thought, and people in Switzerland still think, that the level is not as high, though. I’m not so sure about that anymore. I’ve already played against a lot of MLS teams and there are a lot of very good ones that would be more than competitive in Switzerland. Long story short: I think I’m at a high point in my career, but of course I still want to improve and become a better soccer player! I am going to want that as long as I’m in shape to play on that level. Today, I feel like this could still be for a long time. I feel great. But I also know that time flies by and I have to enjoy every moment that I’m blessed to be a soccer player.”
Are Minnesota United fans the best in MLS?
“I still haven’t been to all the other places, but no matter where I go the fans have to be more than outstanding if they want to just try to compete with our supporters! They are just amazing! But for me, it’s not even just about the singing or the cheering during the game. The positive vibes they keep sending our way even if we are down, the joy when we are up. This of course is all just so cool here and they are amazing in doing that. But I just love the fans’ attitude here. It’s all about passion and cheering on the home team of course, like I’ve always known it to be. But here in Minnesota, before even being big enthusiastic fans, they just want to be good people. It’s fairness above all. It’s acceptance for everybody. It’s respect for the opponent, player or fan. It’s being a part of a good community. They even have programs for cleaning up the stadium after the game! I mean, where would you see that? And this mentality of the fans, which for me represents the mentality of Minnesotan people, is just wonderful. It makes me want to try to commit and identify myself with them.
“Sorry, I wanna say my answer is “ yes “.
Where do you see MLS in the next decade?
“Phew, I don’t even know where it’s going to be then but I’ll try. The league is growing. Everybody, including in Europe, is noticing it. Infrastructures are amazing. The level is already very good and will continue growing because more and more players want to join MLS and because soccer is becoming more and more important in the U.S. – meaning that youth coaches will become better, soccer education will improve and the level will get higher and higher. The league is structured very differently than those in Europe, but that hasn’t stopped MLS from growing so far and I don’t think it’s going to be an issue in the future. MLS in 10 years probably still won’t be on the level of the big European leagues, like the Premier League, La Liga or Bundesliga, but I bet it’s going to be really close to Italian and French levels on the field. Definitely better than small European Leagues. Beyond the field, meaning attendance, TV and so on, it’s going to be top level.”
What’s the biggest goal you want to achieve with the Loons?
“I want to play in the playoffs with the Loons, because this club and this place deserve that. The sooner the better.”