As we here at Once a Metro continue to introduce all of the recent homegrown signings, we continue on with Bucknell defender and midfielder Chris Thorsheim, it is time for New York Red Bulls' fans to get to know the big man of Lewisburg.
Who is Chris Thorsheim? A scouting report
Born: June 30th, 1994 - Manalapan, New Jersey
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 155 lbs
Position: Fullback, Midfielder
Chris Thorsheim has gone from joining the Red Bull's academy in his senior year into an exceptionally solid college career and now a homegrown contract. Prior to joining New York's academy, Thorsheim captained Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, NJ) in his junior and senior year, leading them to the state title with a record of 21-0-0 in his senior year. Despite not playing for a traditional powerhouse in Bucknell, Thorsheim's play over the last 4 years has impressed enough to land him on the Preseason 30 man Hermann Trophy Shortlist.
In the 4 years Chris Thorsheim has spent at Bucknell, he has been an iron-man, playing in all but 1 of his team's games, starting all but 4. In 80 games, Thorsheim has notched 20 goals and 17 assists, to be one of Bucknell's leading players from the day he stepped on campus. Much like Alex Muyl, Chris Thorsheim presents a predicament in terms of his positional play. In his 4 years at Bucknell, Thorsheim has played almost exclusively midfield, mostly centrally, though New York sees him as a fullback, where he has played for the team's U23 team the last few summers.
None of the other homegrown players signed this year have as well-rounded a game as Thorsheim. He's versatile, capable of playing right back, right mid, center mid, as well as a more restricted or advanced role in midfield. At times for Bucknell he has almost appeared to be a second striker, sitting just off the shoulder of their main attacker. Additionally, Thorsheim has a soft touch, the ability to take free kicks, and the composure to take penalties. He has good speed, and maintains that well on the ball, is willing to work and press in the midfield, and has shown in his time at fullback that he has a defensive mind for the game. He can dribble in a maze, holding off a man while doing so, he can adjust to a new play style on the fly, and he can finish a ball off when given the opportunity. It is honestly difficult to find a player with a more complete game built around him coming out of college.
Now, this may begin to sound like he is a jack-of-all-trades, and master of none. It's a prevalent problem in the professional game and has plagued Connor Lade for the last few years, as he remains unable to nail down a starting spot in one place, despite a proficiency in many. Yes, this could come back to haunt Thorsheim in the future, like it has Lade, if the team sees him as another Swiss Army Knife instead of a key positional paper, but Thorsheim is different than Lade in many ways.
While Thorsheim shares Lade's versatility, they don't overlap nearly as much in terms of skill set. Lade is a tenacious defender, who possesses the ability to cross from deep and attack on occasion. He can fill in aptly as a defensive midfielder, as his 2014 CCL appearances and time with the Cosmos shows, however, Thorsheim has another layer to his game. Chris Thorsheim may not have the same bulldog attitude on defense that Connor Lade does, but he possesses a creativity in his passing and a strength to his dribbling that Lade lacks. For better and for worse they're different players. End of story.
Also on Thorsheim's side is the fact that despite his versatility, the team appears to have a clear position in mind due to his consistent deployment as a fullback for the team's U23 squad. Overall, his position remains up in the air, the club listing him as a forward only complicating the matter.
The club's listing of Thorsheim is an interesting choice, and while it's a mischaracterization of him as a player, it does raise an interesting point about how Thorsheim has been deployed and developed in college. Often in his career at Bucknell, Thorsheim would start in the center of midfield with the responsibility of running the team's offense, driving them forward with his meandering runs, but as the game would go on Thorshiem would drift higher and higher, and track back less and less. By the end he was practically playing as a second striker, pressing the defense high, and only dropping deep into the midfield to receive the ball. These circumstances illustrate his capabilities as a playmaker, showing he can play both sides of the box-to-box midfielder.
Now if the team does see Thorsheim as a rightback, these traits don't go to waste. One of his real attributes is his ability to maintain his speed while running with the ball, without having to relinquish control of the ball. This, combined with his already above average speed, makes him an excellent threat attacking down the flanks, bombing on from deeper on the field. Thorsheim's speed won't be as apparent on the pro level, as the competition is a step up from college play, but it should allow him to remain competitive, and his ball control will continue to serve him well. His willingness to press high in the midfield can also transfer back to the flanks, making him a very good fit for New York's Gegenpressing system.
Lastly, much like many of the team's recent homegrowns, be it Brandon Allen, Sean Davis, Mael Corboz, or Scott Thomsen; Chris Thorsheim is more than capable of taking free-kicks. However, when compared to some of the prior names on this list, Thorsheim's lofted service becomes much more of an afterthought, as while it is functional, it's rather unexceptional.
What is Chris Thorsheim's role on a pro level? That remains to be seen, but his talent and the well-rounded nature of his game is very apparent and should serve him well in the coming months. Look for Thorsheim to feature heavily for NYRBII this year, establishing a position before transferring that into MLS in the future.