Photo Illustration by Brittany Schock / courtesy of Ohio State Athletic Department
Former Ohio State men’s soccer defender David Tiemstra kept refreshing his computer screen during Tuesday’s Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft, hoping to see his name appear. A call from his agent made the next refresh a formality.
Tiemstra, a two-time Big Ten Defender of the Year honoree, was selected with the No. 44 pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft by the San Jose Earthquakes Tuesday. Tiemstra will leave to join the Earthquakes Sunday and begin training with his new team Monday.
“We’re excited for him,” OSU men’s soccer coach John Bluem told The Lantern Tuesday. “We always believed strongly that somebody would take a look at him because he’s such a good defender. So it wasn’t surprising to me at all when San Jose selected him and I think he, potentially, could be a very good pro.”
Bluem said that Tiemstra’s physical build is well-suited for the professional game.
“David’s strengths as a defender are his athletic ability,” Bluem said. “He’s very, very tough, and he’s a tough man-marker. Those are the qualities that … would have made him attractive to any of the MLS teams. The strengths that he has are hard to teach — big, strong, fast.”
A selection in the Supplemental Draft doesn’t ensure Tiemstra a spot on the Earthquakes’ roster, though, and Bluem said the player will need to improve in several areas.
“(Tiemstra) is going to have to improve on the attacking side of playing in the back,” Bluem said. “He’s got to become a little bit more accurate in his passing. It’s in the technical, attacking side of things that (Tiemstra) has some shortcomings right now, but … he can change that with coaching and playing against professionals every day.”
Tiemstra agreed with his former coach’s assessment of his strengths and weaknesses.
“When I get out there, I think I’m going to have to just really show my strength,” he said. “So I think I’m really just going to have to show what I can do in my other areas of strength and, hopefully, get a spot (on the roster).”
Tiemstra might or might not take hold with the Earthquakes, but some probably view his draft selection as a justified ending to a decorated career as a Buckeye.
During his senior season, Tiemstra helped lead an OSU back line that allowed just 20 goals in 18 matches. For his career, Tiemstra started each of the 78 games he played in for the Scarlet and Gray and managed six goals and a single assist on the offensive end of the field.
Tiemstra said his game-tying goal in the closing seconds of a match against the eventual national champion Akron Zips during the 2010 season is one of his favorite moments as a Buckeye.
Bluem, who now has four players drafted into the ranks of MLS in the last two seasons, agreed.
“I would say that the goal against Akron definitely ranks right up there,” Bluem said with a laugh while referring to Tiemstra’s game-tying goal in the closing seconds of a Sept. 29, 2010.
Tiemstra also said his game-winning goal against Michigan in the 2009 Big Ten Championship, which came in the 45th minute of the elimination game played on Nov. 7, 2009, was a particularly special moment because of a personal interaction he had with the Wolverine coaching staff.
After talking to the Michigan’s men’s soccer coach throughout high school, Tiemstra emailed the coach and requested a visit to Ann Arbor, Mich., after visiting OSU. The response from UM’s soccer program was not what he expected.
“His reply was that he wanted to wait until after summer camps to see if they had any walk-on players coming in. That’s when I immediately called (OSU),” Tiemstra said. “I sent a letter to the Michigan coach saying I had committed to (OSU). I never heard from him again. So, I really wanted that goal. That was my most fond memory of playing here.”
While Tiemstra had some memorable goals to his name, Bluem said the player’s indelible mark on the program was his defensive prowess.
“Here’s the memory too — that (Tiemstra) always shut down the top opponents whenever we played against teams that had an outstanding forward,” he said. “Those forwards never scored against David.”