Dielna proves key defensive newcomer in Revs comeback

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Claude Dielna has experienced an accelerated introduction to MLS since signing with the New England Revolution on July 28.

He’s gone toe-to-toe with the likes of New York City FC’s David Villa, D.C. United’s Patrick Mullins, and Orlando City SC’s Dom Dwyer, holding his own against each. Those showings are what Revs head coach Jay Heaps has come to expect since slotting the Frenchman into the backline, often alongside Antonio Delamea, a Slovenian and fellow MLS newcomer.

“Claude has been ultra-professional since he got here,” Heaps said. “Ready to go, he’s locked in. It’s one of the first times I’ve seen a player come in and understand the situation, understand how important every game is. He wants to get right into the fire. Usually guys want to take their time, get adjusted. He’s like, ‘Get me in there and I can figure this out.’ I think he’s done that really well.”

Dielna remained soft-spoken following their 4-0 throttling of Orlando City SC last Saturday, but also introspective.

A cousin of former New York Red Bulls center back Ronald Zubar, Dielna previously spent much of his career bouncing around European leagues. There were stops in France, Greece, England, Romania and Slovakia before he found new footing in the greater Boston area.,

“To come to MLS was, for me, very important to come here,” Dielna said. “I like the States. I was there many times, but with football and coming to the New England Revolution, it was a good step for me. Now I’m here and I need to keep working hard. I will show to everyone that I’m not here for nothing.”

That's all made quite the impression on Lee Nguyen, one of New England’s longest-tenured players. Outside of Dielna’s physical presence and communication skills, Nguyen said Dielna’s cultured left foot has been a welcome addition to the center back position.

“He can spring balls, so he stretches the offense and the opposing defense as well,” Nguyen said. “They can’t just bunker in because he can play that long diagonal ball. Also, he’s a force on the back off of set pieces and crosses, so, another big boy that we have in the back.”

Going one step further, Heaps hailed Dielna’s attention to details during the week, specifically when it comes to watching film. He said the 29-year-old is constantly asking questions when the Revs are breaking down opponents, and then applying the subsequent talking points to each match’s game plan.

And, when summed together, they’re qualities that should help the Revs immensely amidst their playoff push. They sit four points out of a playoff spot. Critical Eastern Conference games remaining against the likes of Atlanta United FC and the Montreal Impact, both teams against whom they're vying for the last couple playoff spots. 

That reality wasn’t lost on Dielna. “I think we [played well] tonight, but we need to keep it [going] because it’s only one victory,” he said. “We know every game has a big importance now, so we need to be focused on the next game.”