Jeremiah Bass made the defensive play of the match when the Thunder defeated Miami FC 3-1 last Saturday, kicking away a loose ball inches from the goal line.
"When in doubt in a situation like that, you head back toward the goal line and see if you can make a play," said Bass, who added a goal and an assist.
When it comes to his professional soccer career, however, Bass -- the league's reigning player of the week and the Thunder captain -- has not always been in the right place at the right time.
From 2001-03 he trained with the Thunder, but only played in exhibition games. In 2004, he traded soccer for a job with Ameriprise Financial. Love for the game kept him playing in local men's leagues, where he was reunited with Thunder coach Amos Magee and offered a second chance to play professional soccer.
Bass, 30, not only is captain this season, but he is also the team's oldest player -- and the only one working a fulltime job during the season.
He arrives at his downtown Minneapolis office by 6:30 a.m., drives up to the National Sports Center in Blaine for training sessions beginning at 9 a.m., and then goes back to work. Bass uses his vacation hours when the team goes on the road.
"It gets hard some days but I feel pretty comfortable with everything right now," he said. "Is it fate or luck that I'm still playing? Who knows, man? I just want to keep what we've got going and going."
Now in the second year of an unlikely return to the Thunder, Bass has become a player Magee said he "cannot get out of the lineup."
"To go from playing on the weekends to winning a starting spot and then becoming a captain is really unique," Magee said.
Serving as captain for the Thunder, which enters tonight's game with Vancouver in a tie for second place, feels like a reward for his resiliency.
"Being a captain is an honor when you play on a team with so many good players," he said. "I have to be the guy who will stick his head into places others won't."
Magee played the past few seasons in a winter men's league in Woodbury with team president and former MLS player Manny Lagos. They noticed Bass, who Magee knew from his first stint with the Thunder, was "consistently hard to play against."
Approaching Bass about a comeback was tricky, Magee said, because he did not want him to jeopardize Bass' business interests for a minor role. Bass did not want to repeat his first stint with the Thunder either. The inability to earn playing time under then-coach Buzz Lagos still perplexes Bass. "I felt like I was good enough," he said. "But it comes down to the coach."
A sports hernia delayed Bass' debut last season until the fifth match. He earned a starting spot, then served as captain for the last few matches of the season.
"Jer's an interesting case," Magee said. "He's always been a quality player, but there wasn't the consistency. He distinguished himself because he always wants to play soccer and he made himself better."