SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Tommy Thompson has not seen a lot of playing time for the San Jose Earthquakes since signing the club's first homegrown player contract back in 2014, so it was with great anticipation that he suited up as captain of the MLS Homegrown Player team in the The Chipotle Homegrown Game against the Mexico U-20 national team Wednesday evening at Avaya Stadium.
Thompson led his team, which featured other MLS starlets goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, defenders Justin Glad and Jordan Allen, and forwards Jordan Hamilton and Jordan Morris, onto the field to start the match, and the 20-year-old put in a solid 62 minute shift before being subbed out for Morris by MLS Homegrown team coach Landon Donovan. The problem for the MLSers: Mexico had already staked out a 2-0 lead, a lead they would carry to the final whistle.
"It was a pretty good game," said Donovan. "I thought there were quite a few chances for both sides, and in the end, we could have conceded more goals given the goals we gave up were a little naive. But we probably could have scored a couple goals too. The game was enjoyable, and besides the result, everyone enjoyed themselves."
Midfielder Luiz Marquez, who plays for Chivas de Guadalajara, scored from the penalty spot in the 34th minute before doubling El Tri's lead in 45th minute with a free kick cross-turned-goal. The 21-year-old took home MVP honors for his two-goal performance.
"We were unlucky to give up a goal on a PK and a set piece," said Thompson. "I thought we created some really good chances, and it could have easily finished 2-2."
The MLS youngsters showed some individual talent at times, but a clear lack of team chemistry and a quick counterattacking Mexico side were their undoing. And despite a late push to get back into the game, the visitors cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory.
"It can be tough to get used to playing with the other players in the locker room," said Thompson, "especially when you only have a day or two to practice and find out what other people like. It can be difficult sometimes, but we got it together in the second half and had some really good spells."
Entering the game, in two previous editions of the MLS All-Star Game eve match, only Thompson had scored for the league -- he scored the lone goal in last season's 1-1 draw versus Club America's U-20 side after a scoreless draw the year before in Portland. With the shutout loss Wednesday night, Thompson will keep that record for at least another year, though that did nothing to diminish the lengthy applause he received from the pro-Earthquakes Avaya Stadium crowd when he exited the game.
"The support I receive here in San Jose is unreal," said Thompson, "so to hear the home fans cheer me on, pushing me forward even when times were a bit tough in the game, was motivating. I push hard every day to be the best player I can be, so to get that recognition is something I really appreciate."
Mexico kept the MLS Homegrown players on their collective back feet for much of the first half.
Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez of FC Dallas, who has played for the Mexico youth national teams in the past, made some high-quality saves, but also allowed a fairly soft penalty kick to skip over his body.
Chivas midfielder Luis Marquez scored both goals for the Mexico U-20s, first from the penalty spot and second from a misjudged crossing pass that tucked inside the far post of Gonzalez' net.
Tommy Thompson had the support of the Avaya Stadium crowd behind him, but he was never able to free himself for a shot on goal. He exited the game in the 62nd minute to thunderous applause from the many Earthquakes fans in attendance.
For more of Lyndsay Radnedge's photo gallery of the 2016 MLS Chipotle Homegrown Game, click HERE.