On the eve of the 2016 MLS All-Star game between the best of MLS and Arsenal FC, a select group of Homegrown Players will take on the Mexico U-20 international team at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. Included on the 20-man roster is Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson, who will make his third appearance for the Homegrown team.
Thompson was a key contributor in last year's Homegrown Game against the Club America of Mexico's U-20 team, scoring the only goal for MLS in a 1-1 draw. In 2014, Thompson faced off against current teammate Fatai Alashe, then a member of opponents Portland Timbers FC U-23s, as part of a scoreless draw. This year's contest marks the third year of the competition that features Homegrown Player signings under the age of 23 versus a comparable team.
Joining the 20-year-old Thompson on the team, which was announced by head coach Landon Donovan, who leads the team for the second straight year, are representatives from 10 other MLS clubs. Headlining the group is forward Jordan Morris of the Seattle Sounders, who already is a consistent member of the senior U.S. men's national team. Jordan Allen and Justen Glad, a pair of Real Salt Lake players who are playing significant minutes for their club, bolster the midfield and defensive lines respectively.
The match provides an opportunity for MLS to showcase many of its youngest talent, and the aim is to highlight the league's dedication to fostering development from its academies to its first teams. Over 150 players have signed Homegrown Player contracts, deals that do not count against the clubs' individual salary caps, since the program was introduced in 2009. Thompson, to date, is the only Homegrown Player ever signed by the Earthquakes.
The most accomplished player to come from the system is LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes, who is a regular starter for club and country and has scored 30 goals in three-plus seasons in LA. Another noted alum is DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who has been the primary starter for his team since 2011, collecting 41 shutouts in 146 games. Thompson, who signed for the Earthquakes prior to the 2014 season, has yet to score in MLS action and has seen his minutes played drop each season.
Traditionally held the day before the MLS All-Star Game, the 2016 Chipotle Homegrown Game will be played on Wednesday, July 27, at Avaya Stadium against the Mexico U-20s, winners of the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 championship. Kick-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., and tickets are still available at www.chipotlehomegrown.com. Fans who can't make it to San Jose will be able to watch the game through the MLS website.
2016 MLS Homegrown Team Roster
Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls),Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Jay Chapman (Toronto FC), Coy Craft (FC Dallas), Harrison Heath (Orlando City SC), Aaron Kovar (Seattle Sounders FC), Raul Mendiola (LA Galaxy), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
Forwards: Joey Calistri (Chicago Fire), Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)