Michael Thomas came back from Scandinavia for a chance to play for the team he followed from childhood. When he finally got his shot, he milked it for every minute it was worth.
Thomas started and went the distance in his Sporting Kansas City debut, holding down the defensive midfield spot throughout Wednesday’s 1-1 away draw against Seattle.
“I’ve been ready to play all year,” Thomas told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “I was glad to get my first 90 in, and I’m proud of the guys. This was a good result away from home.”
Next on his list of milestones to reach: showing the hometown fans what he can do.
“I can’t wait,” Thomas said. “Seattle was a good place for my first start, but I can’t wait to get in front of the fans at Livestrong. It’s my hometown team, and I’ve been rooting for them forever. I can’t wait to show everyone back in Kansas City what I’m made of, when the time comes.”
Thomas, who grew up in the suburb of Olathe, Kan., played youth soccer alongside Sporting defenders Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic and was Besler’s college teammate at Notre Dame. He returned home before this season after departing Swedish second-division side Ljungskile SK.
But with Sporting’s midfield already crowded, and with the offseason acquisition of utility mid Paulo Nagamura, Thomas found himself playing a waiting game for his top-level debut.
“Players get frustrated when they’re not playing,” he said. “But I’ve had plenty of discussions with the coaches. I’ve been training well. I’m the type of person to keep on driving. I’m going to do as much as I can and keep striving for every opportunity I can. When it comes, I’ll take advantage of it.”
And while Sporting’s depth might make for an uphill battle for minutes, Thomas is taking the long view.
“I think it’s always good to have two or three good players at every position,” he said. “It makes sure that everybody’s focused for each training. It means you have to perform well. I don’t think we look at it as pressure. We just look at it as having a deep team, and anybody who gets the opportunity can come in and do well.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.