What’s the difference between Tommy Thompson and an up-and-coming German Bundesliga player? Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s not. In 2001 after a disastrous Euros campaign German soccer made player academies compulsory for all Bundesliga 1 and 2 clubs. We all saw the results of that move in Brazil this summer. An astonishing 20% of Bundesliga players still play for the clubs whose academies trained and educated them.
The way Thompson stamped his energy and skill on his first full start for the Quakes in their 1-1 tie in Seattle against the Sounders on Wednesday bodes well not only for the club but also for MLS as a whole. The growth of club academies holds the true key to MLS moving to the next level on the world stage.
To Thompson, a 19 year-old a product of the Homegrown Program and the Earthquakes academy, the club motto is not just words – Unity, Devotion, Heritage – they are a message he’s grown up with, they are what he believes, and it shows on the field.
All too often in the shifting world of big talent, big money, players talk about their commitment to their new club… right up until they talk about their commitment to their next new club.
In a team decimated by injury and carrying the burden of a 5-0 home loss to Dallas the Quakes showed a fighting spirit against Seattle to be admired no matter who you support. In his MLS debut Thompson stood out, showing a desire for the ball and a level of forward movement that seemed to lift his team.
He even managed to display that irreverent, youthful disregard for the big occasion, collecting a ball tightly marked in the area on the side of his head and attempting to roll it behind his neck, off his shoulder, and away from his markers. Unfortunately the ball rolled down his arm and the ref blew for hand ball.
Looking Ahead: Philadelphia Away
Philadelphia may have been scoring goals this season – 36 in 27 games – but equally they’ve been shipping them with 39 goals scored against. The Quakes defense that last year was perhaps their strongest feature has had its challenges this year shipping 28 goals in 25 games, but the offense has struggled to rack up the goals as well, hitting the net 26 times.
Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin acknowledged earlier this week that San Jose were an “angry team” right now and that as a team in transition in its playing style it was one that would be tricky to deal with. The ball on the ground game is likely to catch more than a few teams napping if the Quakes can find the right balance with the players they have available.
The loss for 4-6 weeks due to knee surgery of newly signed designated player Perez Garcia, whose role in the Quakes ground ball attacking game was vital, is a major blow to the California club.
Philadelphia’s team news is a little brighter with the return of their regular goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, and Argentinian midfielder Cristian Maidana now seemingly recovered from a hamstring injury.
The Quakes are desperate for points, be they away or at home, and the new upfront partnership of Wondo and Thompson could easily start adding to that San Jose goal tally.
Kickoff: Sunday August 25, 5 p.m. PT at PPL Park,
Television: CSN Bay Area
Radio: 1590 KLIV (English), 1370 KZSF (Spanish)