BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, February 15, 2010
Since finishing his senior year at Notre Dame University, midfielder Michael Thomas will be hoping that a trial with Halmstad BK in Sweden's top league, the Allsvenskan, will result in a contract offer.
Despite being drafted last month by the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS, Thomas accepted a trial offer from Halmstad because it has always been his dream to play professionally in Europe.
"Although being drafted 19th overall by the San Jose Earthquakes was a great honor for myself, it has been my dream since I was a young boy to play soccer professionally overseas," Thomas told YA. "I was extremely excited for the opportunity to play in the MLS and honestly never knew if the possibility of playing overseas would ever happen. However, because I had heard great things about Halmstads BK and had a fantastic opportunity there, I knew for myself it was only right to give it a shot."
The 21 year old began his trial with Halmstads on January 31st. He is still with the team in Sweden even though the trial was supposed to go for two weeks. Thomas is upbeat with how things have gone for him so far.
"Since I heard about this opportunity, I tried not to fill my head with too many expectations. I didn't want to get my hopes up too much in case it didn't work out in the end," the Olathe, Kansas native discussed. "I knew that if I played like I normally do and enjoyed the experience that I would do well and have a good possibility of getting signed. So, my expectation has always been to play well and see where it goes from there. I have fulfilled my own expectations right now and feel very confident about my possibilities so I am extremely excited."
Halmstads, who are in preseason, will be looking to improve on their 2009 Allsvenskan season where they finished in 13th place in the 16 team league.
So while trying to earn a contract with Halmstad is a priority for Thomas, MLS is still an option for him if he does not receive an offer overseas.
"I think the MLS will always be an option for me as well," Thomas admitted. "Although staying overseas is a long term goal of mine, I would appreciate coming back to the United States and playing a few years with an MLS club in the future."
While NCAA soccer has often been criticized as a way to prepare young players for a professional career, Thomas has found his experience at Notre Dame to be extremely beneficial in terms of helping him become the player he is today.
"Without a doubt I would be not be here today without my collegiate experience at the University of Notre Dame," Thomas stressed. "Playing under a coach like Bobby Clark has helped me develop into a better player and a better person. He taught me many things on the field and helped me develop into a very good two way central midfielder. The one thing he continued to teach me about was being disciplined on the field."
Thomas' dream of playing in Europe began when he was in grade school and his team went to England to play in a tournament. Whether Thomas starts his European career with Halmstad or with another European team after a few years in MLS, playing overseas will always be a priority for him because of the extreme passion for the sport that can be found in European cultures.
"Soccer is much more popular over here and the atmosphere around every stadium is electric," Thomas concluded. "Everything surrounding the club is about the team and not the individuals. Playing in front of thousands of fans who are so compassionate about their team is something that I have always dreamed about as well."