The Seattle Sounders got their first extended look their newest acquisition on Saturday, when midfielder Thomas started in the team’s 3-0 victory against FC Dallas. And if that performance was any indication, it appears that the 22-year-old Brazilian will have a chance to at least fight for a spot in Seattle’s first-team rotation going forward.
Thomas made his first start and home debut as a Sounder on Saturday after officially signing on June 1, playing 61 minutes as an outside midfielder before being subbed out for Obafemi Martins. He made his team debut as an 80th-minute substitute for Marco Pappa in Seattle’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City the weekend prior.
He showcased at least one flash of his playmaking ability out of the midfield early on, nutmegging a Dallas defender before charging into the penalty box and playing a cross that was deflected away in the seventh minute.
Speaking through a translator after the game, Thomas pointed to his first taste of playing in front of the notoriously raucous CenturyLink Field crowd as the highlight of his first home game in Rave Green.
“I’m really happy to play here in front of the fans,” Thomas said. “I didn’t even know that it was going to be this good. And, really, the fans play as the number 12. Hopefully I’ll be able to help and bring some points.”
Perhaps more importantly, Thomas said his previous experience playing in Brazil left him feeling perfectly acclimated to the fast-paced and physical style of play that he’ll have to adapt to in MLS.
“Soccer played here in MLS is fast,” he said. “Lots of contact, very physical. But soccer is like that anywhere in the world. I have experience playing in different places in the world. I played for the [youth] national team as well so, in the end, it’s about soccer and I plan to very successful and help the team.”
After the game, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said he was pleased overall with Thomas’ home debut but did caution that he’ll need a larger sample size before making a true evaluation of where the new signing will fit in as the season progresses.
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“I thought he did alright,” Schmid said after the match. “He still needs to learn. It’s different when you’re training and you’re playing more small-sided games. He needs to learn the team and the rhythm of the big game.
“At times, I think he dropped a little too deep. I’d like to see him stay high. You saw the play he made early in the game, where he megs one and gets behind the other. Those are the things he can do in the final third.”
Despite Schmid's reservations, it may be the case that the young Brazilian continues to get pressed into service after Martins went off injured in the Sounders' US Open Cup loss to the Portland Timbers on Tuesday night. Though there is no indication yet as to the extent of the injury, Schmid did say after the game Tuesday that it was groin-related and Martins would be getting an MRI on Wednesday.
Should Martins require a spell on the sidelines, Lamar Neagle would most likely push up to his forward spot, leaving Thomas with a chance to continue impressing in the midfield.