As New York's recent homegrown signing rampage continues with Virginia defender Scott Thomsen, it is time for New York Red Bulls' fans to get to know the Cavalier and academy free kick maestro.
Who is Scott Thomsen? A scouting report
Born: December 31th, 1993 - Brick, New Jersey
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Since joining New York's academy in 2011, Scott Thomsen has gone on to become one of the most accomplished players in New York's system. On the Red Bull's 2011 U18 team, which featured future pro's Juan Agudelo, Sean Davis, Brandon Allen, Dan Metzger, Konrad Plewa, Bryan Gallego, and Keith Cardona, Thomsen stood out. Thomsen scored 10 goals in 2011, then went on to score 9 in his second year with the team. Both years, his tally was good for second on the team.
Thomsen made an immediate impact upon joining Virginia as well, playing the most minutes of any player on the team as a freshman. Thomsen went on to feature regularly for Virginia over the next 3 years while also competing for New York Red Bulls U23 squad in the summers.
In 2014, Scott Thomsen and the U23's went unbeaten, with Thomsen scoring New York's first goal in the final against Chattanooga FC, leading New York to a 3-1 victory to capture the NPSL championship. In the fall of that year, Thomsen played a key role in Virginia's NCAA National Championship, playing in every game, starting all but one. 2015 saw Thomsen help the U-23's to the USL PDL championship game, where he scored again, but ultimately came up short as the team lost 4-3 to KW United.
Unfortunately, Thomsen featured rarely for Virginia in his senior year, missing most of the season after having to get surgery for a sports hernia. Returning at the end of the year, he featured in only 5 games. Over the course of his college career, Scott Thomsen won 2 national championships (1 NCAA, 1 NPSL) as well as featuring in 1 NCAA Semifinal (2013) and 1 PDL Final (2015), while accruing 3 goals and 18 assists for the Virginia Cavaliers over 66 games.
In college Thomsen has featured as a left midfielder and a left back, while playing solely on defense for NYRB U-23. His crossing and free-kick prowess have allowed him to add a goal and assist tally atypical for a fullback. Thomsen consistently provides good service from dead-ball situations, as his left foot allows him to hit a variety of balls, be they with curve, lofted, hard-driven flat, or fast across the ground. In college, and across the PDL and NPSL, Thomsen has taken free-kicks, corners, and numerous penalties, where he relies exclusively on his cultured left foot. His consistency, and the whip and power that Thomsen can generate from minimal run-up, are what make his free-kicks exceptional. As it stands, Thomsen would be the second or third best free-kick taker on the team, behind Sean Davis and Sacha Kljestan (in that order).
Along with his consistent dead-ball service, Thomsen provides adept crossing from the left side of the field. His technique for free-kicks translates well to the run of play, as his crossing is generally more driven than whipped in service here (fast, flat balls versus slower balls with a lot of curve), but remains very consistent. His ability to get the ball out of his feet and provide himself with a lead up to cross on the run, and with minimal space, certainly adds to this prowess. For a contrast, most of the New York Red Bulls current players often have to stop, slow down the game, and set themselves up slightly, in order to provide consistent service from a wide position. This can be seen in the Lloyd Sam clip below. While not inherently bad, being unable to cross accurately on the run removes a potential tool from a player's arsenal.
On New York, Thomsen would be close to the best crosser almost immediately, with Lloyd Sam being the only player obviously surpassing him.
His skill at consistently providing good service from out wide made Virginia's coach play him in the midfield for much of the 2014 season. As such, Thomsen is willing to drive forward, both as a fullback and a midfielder. Here, he enjoys cutting inside, allowing his accompanying players to provide the wide option, while he continues towards the goal, frequently interchanging a one-two with the central player.
On the run, Thomsen has decent close control, and is capable of using both feet, but heavily relies on his left, as it is much stronger. His speed and overall physical prowess are average, as he won't muscle everyone off the ball or consistently beat others in a foot race in MLS, but they serve him well. He makes up for unspectacular physical attributes with a very good vision of the game. This assists Thomsen two-fold.
First, it allows him to utilize his strong left foot to drill balls across the field, switching the run of play, as he can track runners well, no matter their field position. Second, it allows Thomsen to anticipate the play well and position himself on defense, thus intercepting and stopping a play before it begins. As a whole, his soccer IQ is very high, which should run well with Jesse Marsch's coaching style.
Despite being a defender, one will notice not much has been said to Thomsen's defensive abilities. Now this is not a knock on Thomsen as a defender, as he is a competent one by all measures, but the areas in which Thomsen excels lie in the technical ability of his left foot.
As a whole, Scott Thomsen is physically an average fullback, with an exceptional left foot. This foot, along with his vision for the game, allows for him to provide quality passing as well as crossing from the left back position, adding to both the buildup and the final product of the play. If he can fully develop and utilize his understanding of the game, so as to protect where he may be taken advantage of in an exceptionally physical league, Scott Thomsen is capable of succeeding in this league, in the same vein as a player like Chris Tierney.