Tommy Thompson

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MLS: ATL run wild on 10-man SJ; MNUFC fall to CLB, at home

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Atlanta United 4-2 San Jose Earthquakes

The game in 100 words (or less): Here’s the toughest part of facing Atlanta: they come at you in waves, and they. do. not. ever. stop. coming. San Jose learned that lesson the hard way — made even more difficult by Kofi Sarkodie’s 32nd-minute red card, which forced Chris Leitch’s side to play a man down for an hour, on the road, against one of MLS’s highest-tempo teams — on Tuesday. Tommy Thompson gave the visitors an early lead, which they would hold onto until the 55th minute, at which point all hell broke loose. Carlos Carmona equalized, Josef Martinez put Atlanta in front 10 minutes later, but Chris Wondolowski answered fewer than 90 seconds later. Anton Walkes bagged the winner, Atlanta’s third goal of the night scored on a ball delivered from a wide area, in the 81st minute, and Martinez put the game to bed one minute before full-time. With the victory, Atlanta sit 4th in the Eastern Conference, just three points back of New York City FC, five back of Toronto FC, and seven back of league-leading Chicago Fire.

[ MORE: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT to win over Ghana | Three things ]

Three Four Five Six moments that mattered

2′ — Thompson bags his first MLS goal for 1-0 — It took him 2,563 minutes of playing time over three and a half seasons, but Thompson finally has a league goal to his name.

32′ — A second yellow for Sarkodie, SJ down to 10 — Kofi Sarkodie was more than a little fortunate to still be on the field after just 10 minutes, so he can’t complain too much when he’s shown a soft second yellow card 22 minutes later.

55′ — Carmona taps in the equalizer — Josef Martinez is just an unbelievable joy to watch. Some of the things he tries, and pulls off, are so rare to MLS. Turns out, he’s also an Olympic high-jumper.

65′ — Martinez heads home for 2-1 — Greg Garza serves up a tasty ball from his left back spot, and Martinez loves to go up and get it.

66′ — Wondo equalizes 78 seconds later — Apparently, current MLS defenders haven’t been watching MLS at all this decade, because they’ve still not figured out the league’s one unbreakable rule: never leave Wondolowski alone on either post.

81′ — Walkes heads home for 3-2 — Julian Gressel served up the corner kick, no one for San Jose dealt with it, and Walkes powered the header past David Bingham to seal all three points.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Josef Martinez

Goalscorers: Thompson (2′), Carmona (55′), Martinez (65′, 89′), Wondolowski (66′), Walkes (81′)


Minnesota United 0-1 Columbus Crew SC

The game in 100 words (or less): Theoretically, all 22 teams are still very much alive in the race for six playoff places in each the Eastern and Western Conferences. Realistically, however, teams like Minnesota can’t afford to drop many more points the rest of the way — especially at home — if they’re to claw their way back into the fight out West. Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat to Columbus, while not season-killing, was a bitter blow with Adrian Heath’s side seeking to move to within a single point of 6th-place LA Galaxy. Instead, the Loons managed just a single shot on target all game long and dropped all three points for the sixth time in their last nine games. All four teams that stand between Minnesota and a playoff place currently have at least one game in hand.

[ MORE: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT to win over Ghana | Three things ]

Three moments that mattered

56′ — Steffen makes the diving save on Ibson — The Loons were headed for a 1-0 lead not long before the hour mark, but Zack Steffen was all over Ibson’s free kick.

58′ — Manneh fires from distance, makes it 1-0 — Perhaps letting Manneh take so many touches through the center of the field wasn’t so wise.

65′ — Shuttleworth goes full-stretch to deny Kamara — Ola Kamara had picked out the near post with his volley from the edge of the box, but Bobby Shuttleworth was quick to cover his near post and make the save.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Manneh (58′)

Video: Tommy Thompson nets brilliant back heel finish

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It’s only preseason but Tommy Thompson looked to be in midseason form on Saturday for the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 21-year-old forward opened the scoring for the Earthquakes during their friendly with Reno 1868 FC of the USL. Reno will make its debut in the league during the upcoming 2017 season.

Anyway, Thompson is surrounded by Reno bodies inside the penalty area, before pulling the ball back on his right foot and knocking it beyond the goalkeeper to give Dominic Kinnear’s side the 1-0 lead.

Jurgen Klinsmann struggling to get USMNT players released for Olympic qualifying

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Don’t look now, but the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship is just over a month away from kicking off, and Jurgen Klinsmann is beginning to worry about which key players will and won’t be available for the start of the United States U-23 team’s qualifying campaign.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

While Klinsmann won’t be coaching the U-23 squad himself (he’ll be busy with the senior team in their Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico on Oct. 10), Klinsmann’s role as technical director and overseer of the entire U.S. Soccer program makes him the one responsible for liaising with the involved players’ club sides.

In a video released by USSoccer.com on Monday (above video), Klinsmann explains the intricacies — and difficulties — of getting the club teams of that many quality players to release their prized possessions for international duty when they don’t necessarily have to do so.

“We need help from the clubs overseas, we need help from the clubs here in MLS, in order to get the players released, especially [since] the Olympic qualifiers start outside of the release dates, so we badly need those players in order to qualify for Rio de Janeiro. Hopefully we get the support by all the clubs to get the players in.”

The tournament is scheduled to begin Thursday, Oct. 1, when the Yanks will face Canada at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., and that’s a problem, because the international window for early October doesn’t begin until Monday, Oct. 5. The US U-23 squad will play its three games in Group A on Oct. 1, 3 and 6. Two teams advance from each four-team group. The two semifinals winners advance to the final and automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

Regarding players likely to be called up to the Olympic qualifying team, the following players’ club teams have league games that will conflict with Klinsmann’s request to release them for the start of the tournament:

  • Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC — Saturday, Oct. 3, vs. New York Red Bulls
  • Rubio Rubin, FC Utrecht — Oct. 3, vs. Excelsior
  • Matt Miazga, New York Red Bulls — Oct. 3, vs. Columbus Crew SC
  • Gedion Zelalem, Rangers (on loan) — Oct. 3, vs. Falkirk
  • Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas — Oct. 4, vs. Houston Dynamo
  • Tommy Thompson, San Jose Earthquakes — Oct. 4, vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Luis Gil, Real Salt Lake — Sunday, Oct. 4, vs. Colorado Rapids
  • Jose Villarreal, LA Galaxy — Oct. 4, vs. Seattle Sounders
  • Dillon Serna, Colorado Rapids — Oct. 4, vs. Real Salt Lake
  • Fatai Alashe, San Jose Earthquakes — Oct. 4, vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Tyler Turner, Orlando City SC — Oct. 3, vs. Montreal Imapct
  • Christian Dean, Vancouver Whitecaps — Oct. 3, vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Key players perhaps unaffected due to their various club situations:

  • Emerson Hyndman, Fulham — currently playing for U-21 side
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tottenham Hotspur — currently playing for U-21 side
  • Paul Arriola, Club Tijuana — currently a bench player

October is just about worst time of the calendar year for the Americans in which CONCACAF could have planned to stage this tournament, from a player availability standpoint — MLS’s 2015 regular season will be winding down at that time with the season’s final matchday taking place Oct. 25.

Perhaps breaking apart the “tournament” and spreading it out over the September and October international dates would have better suited Klinsmann and the US U-23 team, but contrary to popular belief, CONCACAF doesn’t exist simply to cater to the US and Mexican federations on any and all matters.

Qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is by no means a foregone conclusion for the American men (remember the 2012 qualifying debacle?), and potentially being forced to begin their quest without a number of their best players will only make it more of a challenge and require the group’s depth to exceed expectations.

MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes

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One game in 100 words: From an attacking standpoint, the Portland Timbers outplayed their opponent, the San Jose Earthquakes. Caleb Porter’s side held 61 percent of possession and struck 23 shots all together. But their main problem revolved around getting those chances on net and staying onside. When the Earthquakes had their few bright spots, misfortune struck, mainly noticed with the missed handball in the first half that could’ve ended this game much differently. The absence of Chris Wondolowski up front was apparent in San Jose’s offensive intentions, as Dominic Kinnear and Co. find themselves fighting for a playoff spot past the season’s halfway mark. Portland is situated at third place in the Western Conference.

 

Goals

Portland: Jack Jewsbury 90’+1′

San Jose: None

 

Three moments that mattered

24’ — Missed handball — Shea Salinas curved in corner kick to the back post in casual fashion, and forward Mark Sherrod located the ball at the right point and headed it down toward goal. The attempt skipped past goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey and fell right onto the upper arm of Alvas Powell, who cleared the danger but managed to escape being called for a certain handball. If that occurred, a penalty kick might have changed the course of this game.

83’ — Thompson goes for PK — ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman went on to praise the quick turn toward goal executed by forward Tommy Thompson, and it was a well-timed exertion giving the youngster an opportunity to draw a foul with a defender breathing down his neck. Thompson did his best to try and sell the little contact he felt on his back. While there will be times when referees call a penalty in a similar situation, the Earthquakes didn’t have that luck here.

90’ +1’ — Timbers capitalize in stoppage time — It was a set-piece in a decent position that ultimately allowed Portland to utilize its opportunistic tendencies. Diego Valeri took a shot but fired it too low to score on the first crack. The ball deflected off of the post, and Jack Jewsbury hustled to tap it in from a tough angle. The endeavor squeezed into the back of the net, and the tired Earthquakes’ inactive defending costed them.

 

Lineups

Portland: Fanendo Adi (Maximiliano Urruti 79′); Adam Larsen Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Norberto Paparatto, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana, Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury, Dairon Asprilla (Rodney Wallace 73′), Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe (Gastón Fernández 84′)

San Jose: Mark Sherrod (Adam Jahn 76′); David Bingham, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart; Fatai Alashe, Shea Salinas, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Tommy Thompson (J.J. Koval 90’+1′), Leandro Barrera (Shaun Francis 72′)

U-20 World Cup preview: The groups, the favorites, USA outlook and the game’s future stars

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Night owls, rejoice, for the 2015 U-20 World Cup, which is being played in New Zealand, kicks off late Thursday night or very, very early Friday morning (depending on what time zone you live in).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s U-20 WC coverage ]

The bi-annual tournament returns and brings with it yet another showcase of some of the world’s very best up and coming talent from all corners of the globe. Want to see the next great South American star from Brazil or Argentina? The U-20 World Cup is the place to do just that. Oh, and the Americans are back for a second straight cycle, carrying expectations as heavy as any wave of youngsters dawning the Stars and Stripes have in quite some time.

The groups

Group A — Myanmar, New Zealand (hosts), Ukraine, United States

Group B — Argentina, Austria, Ghana, Panama

Group C — Colombia, Portugal, Qatar, Senegal

Group D — Mali, Mexico, Serbia, Uruguay

Group E — Brazil, Hungary, Nigeria, North Korea

Group F — Fiji, Germany, Honduras, Uzbekistan

The favorites

Hey, guess what — Brazil, Argentina and Germany have lots more really good, young players coming through the pipeline, so expect them to be around for the latter stages.

Unlike the big World Cup, winning at the youth level isn’t so much about being the best team as it is having the best player, or collection of two or three players. Fortunately for the above mentioned sides, they’ve got both top-end talent and overall better, deeper squads than most.

But don’t be surprised when someone unexpected — think Uruguay, Nigeria or Mexico — has one of the tournament’s leading scorer or assist men, and rides that wave of production to a semifinal or finals appearance. It happens almost every youth tournament — Ghana and Iraq bowed out in the 2013 semifinals.

USA outlook

source: Getty Images
Emerson Hyndman, Fulham FC & USMNT

This time around, the draw was kind to Tab Ramos & Co. Remember that vicious 2013 draw — Spain, France and Ghana? Woof. It went about as poorly as was to be expected — one point and a minus-6 goal differential.

Ukraine, New Zealand and Myanmar is an infinitely better draw. In fact, failing to make it out of the group would be a massive failure. From there, the Baby Yanks could face any one of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, Mexico, Uruguay, Serbia or Nigeria. Obviously winning the group becomes advantageous to avoid some of the heavyweights.

Qualification was pretty straightforward for Ramos’ squad after struggling in their first two group games (1-1 vs. Guatemala, 0-1 vs. Panama). The roster features a number of changes from qualification, but optimism surrounds a side with first-team regulars for their respective club teams — Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls) and Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas) — making up much of the expected starting 11.

Stars of the future

Angel Correa, forward, Argentina & Atletico Madrid — 20 years old — Moved from San Lorenzo (Argentina) to Atletico Madrid last summer, but missed six months of his first season in Spain after a tumor was discovered on his heart. Scored 12 goals in 65 league games in Argentina’s first division, as a teenager.

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Kelechi Iheanacho, Manchester City & Nigeria

Kelechi Iheanacho, forward, Nigeria & Manchester City — 18 years old — Was the star (Golden Ball winner) of Nigeria’s U-17 World Cup-winning side back in 2013. Moved to Man City shortly thereafter, where he’s impressed for the Citizen’s reserve side.

Andreas Pereira, midfielder, Brazil & Manchester United — 19 years old — Made his Premier League debut this season, before signing a new three-year contract weeks later. Belgian-born, but a frequent standout for Brazil’s youth teams at all levels.

Giovanni Simeone, forward, Argentina & River Plate — 19 years old — The son of Atleti manager Diego, Giovanni made his first-team debut for River not long after his 18th birthday. Born in Madrid, could have played for Spain, but elected to play for the country of his father’s birth.

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Hirving Lozano (left), Pachuca & Mexico

Hirving Lozano, midfielder, Mexico & Pachuca — 19 years old — Nearly 50 appearances for Pachuca’s first team, including 29 this season (7 league goals); 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship (qualifying tournament) Golden Boot winner

Andrija Zivkovic, midfielder, Serbia & Partizan — 18 years old — 60 first-team appearances for Partizan; scored 5 league goals each of the last two seasons (12 total, all competitions); made 10 appearances in Champions League qualification playoffs and Europa League this season.

Diego Poyet, midfielder, Uruguay & West Ham United — 20 years old — Another son of a famous father — former Sunderland manager Gus — Diego made a handful of first-team appearances this year, his first season with the Hammers.

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Gedion Zelalem, Arsenal & USA

Gedion Zelalem, midfielder, United States & Arsenal — 18 years old — Crowned the next savior of American soccer long before his switch from German to American international was approved. Just a pair of first-team appearances for Arsenal, but rave reviews from Arsene Wenger have USMNT supporters crazed with hope and excitement.

Godfred Donsah, midfielder, Ghana & Cagliari — 18 years old — Made his Serie A debut at 17 years old; scored twice for a relegated Cagliari side this season after becoming a regular in the first team (20 starts).