From getting his Bundesliga debut and breaking in with the US national team as a young, exciting German-based forward to sitting without a club for six months, the last few years have been a journey for Jerome Kiesewetter.
The humbling experience of being a free agent for a while, after once being a coveted up-and-coming young international, Kiesewetter is staying even-keeled and looking forward. The latest stop on his career carousel is with Inter Miami, an inaugural member of the expansion side heading into their first season.
“At first it was hard," Kiesewetter told MLSsoccer.com this month about his time without a club. "But I wanted to do something I was really behind. I said to my agent it’s not about the money, it’s about the opportunity. ... Honestly, I was done with Germany. I wanted to go back to the states, I was done with Germany for more than one reason. It wasn’t really an option for me anyway. I was waiting for something either in Europe or the states to pop up.”
After leaving Fortuna Dusseldorf in the summer of 2018, where he made just three appearances in the 2. Bundesliga during his final season with the club as it won promotion to the Bundesliga, it took some time for the right option to present itself. From July until April, he was a free agent.
What popped up was a move to El Paso Locomotive in the USL Championship.
"With him not having a team and being out of options, it was very easy to convince him," El Paso head coach Mark Lowry said. "We needed a striker, he needed a team. The timing for the both of us was perfect.”
Kiesewetter had a few offers to leave Germany for MLS in the past, but decided the timing wasn't right. Joining El Paso in the USL Championship last spring was viewed as a stop on his journey to MLS.
“We had a talk before he bought me, (Lowry) said the only reason he brought me in was to get me to MLS," Kiesewetter said. "He trusts me as a player and a person. He knew if I had an offer I was going to go and try my luck to do the best in MLS.”
The forward made the most of his time with the club, leading the team with 12 goals in 25 appearances and firing them to sixth place in the Western Conference. More than the goals and success, he found something even better.
“My last year in Dusseldorf, I lost my joy for soccer. I wasn’t playing, other reasons,“ Kiesewetter said. "In El Paso, I rediscovered my joy for football. It was fun.”
The success earned Kiesewetter a chance with Inter Miami. Minutes won't be easy to come by, as the club already boast two highly-rated Argentine youngsters (Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranza), a former US international (Juan Agudelo), the No. 1 SuperDraft pick (Robbie Robinson) as well as the promise of potentially two more Designated Players in attack.
Like a few others already on the squad, Kiesewetter can play through the center or on either wing in the club's projected 4-2-3-1.
“Jerome was intent on leaving because he has a lot of confidence in himself," Lowry said. "He’s fully backing himself to make an impact for a good MLS team. He’s proven in the past 4-5 years that he can play at a high level—you don’t get two national team caps if you’re not a player of some caliber. But he does have a point to prove that he’s capable of doing this, he has that determination.
“He does have the ability to score goals at the MLS level, I can tell you that," Lowry added.
Miami will be Kiesewetter's fifth club since 2014. Adapting to a new environment isn't an issue for the forward.
“I’ve been so many places, so many cities with different coaches and mentalities, it’s easy for me now," Kiesewetter said. "At the end of the day, it’s soccer."