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Andrew Thomas will get second start after 'surreal' debut

Goalkeeper played well but couldn't deliver a win against LAFC.

Last Updated
2 min read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

RENTON – Growing up in London, one of the players Andrew Thomas most idolized was Hugo Lloris. While Thomas was an up-and-coming goalkeeper in Watford's academy, Lloris was establishing himself as a mainstay across town at Tottenham and laying the groundwork for an international career that would include lifting the 2018 World Cup.

As Thomas was preparing to walk out onto the field for the Sounders' regular-season opener against LAFC on Saturday, he suddenly realized Lloris was standing next to him.

"Walking out and realizing we both had that debut patch on was kind of surreal," Thomas told reporters following Wednesday's training session.

The match itself didn't exactly play out as he hoped. Thomas made four saves and avoided any game-changing mistakes, but was helpless to stop either of LAFC's goals in what was ultimately a 2-1 loss.

Just to add a little salt to the wound, Thomas also missed out on swapping jerseys with Lloris. Apparently Pedro de la Vega, who scored his first MLS goal off the legendary goalkeeper, was first to ask Lloris for the jersey.

"He had a 70-yard head start," Thomas quipped, taking some solace in at least exchanging niceties with Lloris.

Thomas will get another chance to make some better memories when the Sounders host Austin FC this Saturday. The 25-year-old played well enough to give Brian Schmetzer the confidence to give Stefan Frei another week to rest his injured hamstring.

"We had 20,000 fans screaming abuse for 90 minutes and this week we’ll have 40,000 screaming support," Thomas said.

That will hopefully feel a bit more like the proper culmination of what has been a roller-coaster start to his professional career.

Thomas started his soccer career when he joined the Watford academy at 9 years old and worked his way up through the ranks, seemingly on his way to becoming a full professional. But faced with that choice after graduating high school, Thomas decided he wasn't quite ready and chose to extend his amateur career by seeking opportunities in the American college system. Among the schools he sent highlight tapes to was Stanford, who was in the midst of winning three straight NCAA titles.

Despite never having seen him in person, Stanford offered him a spot. Thomas would eventually make 55 starts for the Cardinal and established himself as one of the top collegiate goalkeepers.

The Sounders traded up to put a waiver claim on Thomas following his senior season in 2021, a process that was instituted as a result of Covid-19 for just that season. Thomas joined the Sounders and got off to an impressive start with Tacoma Defiance, collecting three shutouts and allowing just four goals in seven starts.

But his season was cut short when there was a fracture discovered in his vertebrae. After rehabbing that, he came back in 2022 only for the injury to return, prompting him to undergo surgery that effectively cost him an entire season. Thomas returned in 2023, where he made 15 starts for Defiance before getting loaned to New Mexico United of the USL Championship, making eight more starts and helping them qualify for the playoffs.

Former Defiance head coach Wade Webber has often raved about Thomas' athleticism and shot-stopping ability, something he's finally able to showcase again. This preseason, he beat out Jacob Castro for the right to back up Frei.

"I’m grateful for the support of the club, the surgeons," Thomas said. "My back feels better now than it did a few years ago which helps me sleep a little easier at night."