This coming Saturday is Alumni Night at BC Place, with approximately 75 members of the 'Caps family on hand to watch Whitecaps FC battle New England Revolution at BC Place (Tickets: ticketmaster.ca). Leading up to Saturday's match, we take a look back at a few of their careers and find out what they're up to now. Today we begin with former defender Justin Thompson.
WHERE HE STARTED: Born in Prince Rupert, BC, but growing up on the North Shore, Justin Thompson spent the early part of his soccer career playing for a number of elite youth teams in the Lower Mainland.
A highlight of his youth soccer career was being selected for the U-20 Canadian men’s national team and playing in the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championships, where Canada competed in the same group as Brazil, Germany and Iraq.
Thompson went into the tournament as a striker and started the first match against Iraq up top, but an injury at the back saw him switch to centre back, where he remained for the rest of the tournament and marked some of his generation’s top players, including Brazilian stars Kaka, Adriano and Maicon. “It was a baptism by fire,” said Thompson of the experience.
Beyond the U-20 team, Thompson also represented Canada at the U-18 and U-23 levels.
Following his youth days, Thompson attended Union University in Tennessee for a year before transferring to Fairfield University in Connecticut where he would finish his degree in finance and his collegiate soccer career.
WHERE HE WENT: After a successful collegiate career, Thompson spent time at English club Bury FC before returning to British Columbia to play for his hometown Whitecaps FC in 2004.
The 6-foot-1 defender then returned to England to play for Hornchurch FC and Worcester City FC.
“Playing in England in general was cool,” Thompson told whitecapsfc.com. "To experience the passion and intensity of the English game compared to the North American game was very memorable."
In between, Thompson returned to North America during the English offseason to play for United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL) side Virginia Beach Mariners.
In 2007 and 2008, “the lumberjack” – as he was sometimes called in England – played for the ‘Caps Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers.
Then finally in 2009, the local lad came full circle and returned to play for the ‘Caps to finish out his professional career.
“To play in front of my home crowd, family and friends for Whitecaps FC was the best time of my playing career,” said Thompson.
The defender finished his career in Vancouver with 1,899 minutes played in 25 games for the Blue and White.
WHERE HE IS NOW: Thompson retired from professional soccer in 2010 to pursue a career as a sports agent. The decision was a tough one for the one-time Canadian international, but he prioritized his future career over his playing one.
“When it got to a point where I had to pick one or another, I had to decide on what I wanted to focus on,” said Thompson. “To grind out another couple more years as a player or my next 30 years as an agent.”
Interestingly, Thompson worked closely with Daigo Kobayashi’s agent in the midfielder’s transfer from Japan to Vancouver, where he now plays with Whitecaps FC.
Among his clients are a myriad of MLS players including Giles Barnes of Houston Dynamo, Darren O’Dea of Toronto FC and his teammate on the 2001 FIFA Youth World Youth Championships, Terry Dunfield, who is also a former member of the ‘Caps.
Like most any 'Caps alum, Thompson hasn't strayed far from the game he loves.