By the end of Dominic Kinnear’s tenure as manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, it was generally considered a no-go among reporters to ask the coach about Tommy Thompson’s goal drought. Such questions had become redundant and unfair given the midfielder’s other on-field contributions, so the topic was downplayed by the team. At times, however, it seemed as if their reticence only amplified the anticipation of Thompson’s first-ever Major League Soccer goal.
On Tuesday night, Thompson finally broke his duck with a clinical finish in the club’s eventual 4-2 loss to Atlanta United. Though Thompson is only twenty-one, he had waited four seasons, sixty-four appearances and nearly forty-five hours of Major League Soccer play.
It’s easy to overstate the importance of the goal but much less tiresome to do so after the fact.
“Tommy took it well,” said coach Chris Leitch. “The work that he’s put in along with all his teammates in the last nine days is unbelievable. When you think the kid is done and can’t go anymore, he keeps on going and he took that goal really well.”
Added Leitch, per MLSSoccer.com: “He’s been close in his career, but for him to do it tonight, hopefully that breaks it open a little bit and he can go off and score a lot more. I know he’s capable of it for sure.”
Ironically, Thompson wasted no time in scoring just two minutes into the match with a powerful top-corner finish from a deflected ball.
“It feels great,” he said. “I would have hoped to get my first one in a game that the team won, but to get the monkey off my back feels good and I already look forward to our next game.”
The early goal invigorated the visitors but Kofi Sarkodie’s first-half red card shattered their momentum. Carlos Carmona punished Leitch’s men with a simple tap-in goal from David Bingham’s save on the other side of the break and Josef Martínez completed the comeback with a towering header in the sixty-fifth minute.
The Quakes rallied through Chris Wondolowski’s volleyed equalizer but their aerial disadvantage outweighed some promising build-up play as Anton Walkes headed Atlanta back into the lead with ten minutes to go. For a match that had started so well for the Quakes, the finish was terribly misfortunate.
Martínez put the game to bed for Atlanta with a low finish in the eighty-ninth minute and center back Victor Bernardez was also handed a controversial red card for clipping Martínez with the follow through of a late clearance.