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Interview with San Jose Earthquakes player Tommy Thompson

As I mentioned in my Republic Stoppage Time column this past Sunday, I spoke with San Jose Earthquakes player Tommy Thompson last week for a interview that would be published on the NorCal Premier Soccer website.

You can read the interview, in which Thompson talks about playing in the MLS is Back Tournament, his YouTube account, and playing for Matias Almeyda here.

I do have some additional notes here, though.

Four years ago, I wrote about the skillful player's warm-up routine in which he blasts the ball 100 feet into the air and then nonchalantly takes it down. It's the most entertaining warmup I've seen in soccer.

Last night, I brought up a video of it and showed my roommate, who is not a soccer fan. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.

Anyway, I hope we get over this pandemic soon so people can watch this entertaining Earthquakes team and Thompson in action (both in warmups and during the game).

One thing that Thompson brought up in our interview that didn't make the final article was his use of the language learning app Duolingo.

Thompson has used his free time in the past two seasons to learn Spanish in order to better communicate with other players on his team and with Almeyda, who doesn't fluently speak English and employs a full-time translator to relay his instructions to his players in real time.

Side note: at a lecture last summer at the NorCal Premier Soccer Summer Coaching Symposium, Almeyda told us, through that same translator, that education wasn't highly valued when he was growing up as a soccer player in Argentina.

Then he said something along the lines of: "If we were serious about education in Argentina, I would be speaking to you in English right now."

Thompson told me that he completed the entirety of the Spanish lessons on Duolingo as English speaker and then went back and completed English lessons as a Spanish speaker.

“Now I’m watching a lot of TV in Spanish, that’s the next level, basically," Thompson told me.

“It takes a while but going through the full process, especially at the end...I would do it as quickly as possible because in order to speak on the field in live time you have to be really fast," he said. "I would try to blow through it, but it definitely gets tough towards the end. It really helped me form that foundation and now it’s allowed me to continue to improve at a faster pace because I’m using more and more (Spanish) every day.”

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