What can the Earthquakes Academy do for you?
Try asking Tommy Thompson.
The speedy forward regained his fitness training with the under-18 academy team coming off a six-month knee injury. He was promoted to the Quakes reserve team, and now he’s ready to take the college game by storm, playing for defending NCAA champion Indiana next season.
Thompson said it was a "great experience" playing on the reserve team. Quakes management sees a bright future for Thompson, who has a bit of magic in his play.
“He has a chance to play in the MLS,” Quakes general manager John Doyle said. “Watching him, he’s different. I think he’s excellent.”
The Earthquakes discovered Thompson, a senior at Granite Bay High School, when he played for a Sacramento club team three or four years ago.
“I was like, ‘Wow. This is some kid,'” Doyle recalled. “I found out who he was. (Academy manager) Fred Wilson knew him, and we pursued him."
Clearly, the Thompson family tree is loaded with soccer skill.
Tommy’s dad, Gregg, played for the U.S. national team in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles after starring at Indiana. Tommy's two brothers are Division I players: Ty, with Stanford, and Tanner, with his future school, Indiana.
Tommy marvels at the Quakes’ player development system, in which young prospects can learn from ex-pros, such as academy technical director Chris Leitch and coaches Stephen Wondolowski and Marquis White, while also facing pros on the field. It’s a recipe for growth and discovery.
“I never really understood how you could play with professionals until I played against San Jose,” Thompson said. “They saw me and thought I should guest-play for them. It’s a great system that they’ve got going, where they can introduce kids at such a young age to that level. It’s motivating, to say the least.”
A target player with the academy, Tommy is more of a withdrawn forward with the reserve team. He came off the bench in the 80th minute against the Portland Timbers in an April reserve game, also suiting up against Seattle. He was thrilled to team up on the attack with current Quakes senior players Adam Jahn and Marcus Tracy.
Moreover, Tommy was excited to be recruited by his dad’s old school, Division I super power, Indiana. “A little bit of shoes to fill over there, but we’ll see,” Tommy said.
A former tackle football player in Stillwater, MN, Gregg Thompson was recruited by Indiana because of his blazing speed. He was co-captain of Indiana's first NCAA title team in 1982, scoring both goals in a 2-1, eight-overtime win over Duke.
“He kind of taught me everything I knew as I grew up,” Tommy said of his dad, who was inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame for soccer. “Since day one, he was always putting me in soccer camps, teaching me, criticizing me, and helping me whenever I needed to learn anything.”
Like his dad, Tommy has an abundance of pace.
“I weigh, like, 155 pounds or so, so I’m not like the biggest guy, but my dad always emphasized footwork – footwork and touch are my strengths,” Tommy said.
Tommy says Tanner graduated early from Granite Bay so he could arrive at Indiana in time for spring training. Tanner scored a second-half goal in Indiana’s 3-2 recent win over Notre Dame -- its first win of the 2013 spring season. Tanner has relayed glowing reviews of the Hoosiers' players to Tommy.
“I’m really, really excited,” Tommy said of playing for Indiana. “They wanted me coming off a national championship, so I can’t wait to get over there and play with some of those guys.”
For now, Tommy will finish his spring forward with the Quakes reserve team.
- Richter Media