SACRAMENTO — Slightly more than a year ago, Tommy Thompson was starring for Granite Bay High School, playing against the likes of Davis and Jesuit.
But in Monday night’s friendly match, the diminutive attacking midfielder lined up for the largest game of his life as the Sacramento Republic FC fell 1-0 to the English Premier League side West Bromich Albion in front of a crowd of 7,461 at Bonney Field.
After 58 minutes of up-and-down play, the on-loan San Jose Earthquake received a loud ovation from his hometown crowd as he departed the match with the Republic trailing.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Thompson said about playing in front of those fans. “I got kids that I went to high school with out here. I got family out here. It’s exciting. It’s a great reception here in Sacramento and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Perhaps the best chance of the night was Thompson’s in the 32nd minute when an Adam Jahn header fell to him near the corner of the 6-yard box.
The former Indiana Hoosier collected the ball, opened up his hips, and tried to place it far post, but hit it agonizingly wide.
Despite the miss, Thompson’s play saw him named man of the match and earned him a Twitter shout-out from West Brom player and English international Joleon Lescott.
“It’s really exciting. Me and my family grew up watching (the English Premier League),” the 18-year-old said. “It was really cool to get a chance to actually go against them. I thought we did well and got a good result.”
Republic FC started the match on its back foot when defender Nermanja Vuković took down Nigerian international Victor Anichebe in the box just 12 minutes into the match, leading to a penalty kick that Scottish international Graham Dorrans converted for the only goal of the game.
Sacramento battled back into the game, controlling more of the play after that, and when West Brom’s Craig Gardner was sent off in the 82nd minute, the Republic began throwing numbers forward to try to get a result.
Unfortunately for the home team, none of its 21 shots came to fruition thanks to nine saves from Modesto-born goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, who represents Wales at the international level.
Notes: Thompson will represent the MLS homegrown players in the first-ever MLS Homegrown Game, part of the MLS All-Star weekend festivities on Aug. 4. Thompson is considered a homegrown player because he came through the San Jose Earthquakes youth academy… This match was the first match that Bonney Field didn’t sell out its capacity of 8,000… Adam Jahn of El Macero started and played the first 70 minutes for the Republic.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam