San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson has performed on the MLS Homegrown Game stage before ... three times, in fact.
But without a doubt, the 2016 edition will hold a special place in his memory.
Wednesday’s match between the MLS Homegrown players and the Mexico Under-20 National Team certainly didn’t end the way Thompson and his teammates intended -- in a 2-0 win for the enemy.
But even before the opening whistle, there was a certain aura at Avaya Stadium when word came down that Thompson would wear the captain’s armband.
“Just to be named to the squad by Landon Donovan was exciting,” Thompson said. “Then to find out I was going to have opportunity to be captain was a great feeling. Obviously, I’m disappointed with the result but some guys showed really well tonight and there are plenty of positives to take from an experience like this.”
Thompson came into Wednesday’s match tied for first amongst his Homegrown team in MLS appearances with 40. He is also the only player to play in all three of versions of the Homegrown Game.
“To have the opportunity to play with some of the best young players from across the league is something I’ll always remember,” Thompson said. “It took us about 45 minutes to really get going but I think we showed what the young guys of MLS can do.”
It might be unfair to judge Thompson, or any of the Homegrown players for that matter, on the merits of a game that hastily pieces together players from across the MLS. Still, Thompson, the captain, completed nearly 96 percent of his passes during the first half and produced some of MLS’ best offensive chances during his 61 minutes on the pitch.
Thompson was replaced by Seattle Sounder forward, and former Stanford University standout, Jordan Morris.
“I told the team it’s going to be a great experience.” Thompson said. “San Jose has a great love for soccer. … The support here in San Jose is unreal. To hear the fans cheer me on and push me forward even when the times were tough in that game was really motivating.”
Thompson is the Quakes’ first ever homegrown player, signing his deal in 2014, and the hype around his skill and promise has been building since. He’s started four matches this season and has made appearances in six others. Thompson has also spent time playing on loan with San Jose’s United Soccer League affiliate, the Sacramento Republic.
Over on the MLS side, Thompson is still searching for that elusive first MLS point, but he knows it’s just a matter of time.
“I work hard every day to try and break into the lineup and to eventually to hopefully impact the score sheet,” Thompson said. “Our team is in a good spot right now and I look forward to see what we can accomplish the rest of the season.”
Thompson will watch two of his teammates -- Chris Wondolowski and David Bingham -- take part in the MLS All-Star Game on Thursday at Avaya Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30pm.