CASA GRANDE, AZ - This wasn’t quite the way Simon Thomas pictured making his national team debut. But the 22-year-old goalkeeper isn’t complaining.
The Victoria, BC, native is currently without a club despite the fact he earned his first two caps for Canada over the past week. Thomas is trialing with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC as he looks for a new club after his one-year deal at English side Huddersfield Town expired at the end of the 2011-12 season.
He's hoping his senior national team debut – first as a halftime substitute against Denmark in a 4-0 loss last Saturday in which he conceded one goal, then starting and keeping a clean sheet against the United States in Tuesday’s scoreless draw – will help him find a home
“I think you have those dreams of playing this early on, but I never really saw it coming until it actually happened,” Thomas told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesdsay. “It was quite a whirlwind venture from finding I was going to camp to then playing against the United States and Denmark.
“It’s been brilliant for me and it’s given me such a confidence boost.”
Interim Canada head coach and former Whitecaps FC assistant coach Colin Miller is familiar with Thomas from their days in Vancouver, where Thomas came up through the Residency program before signing terms with Huddersfield in 2011, and told him he’d be getting the nod to start against the Americans on Tuesday morning.
“He asked me, ‘How are you doing, how are you feeling? I’m going to start you tonight,’” Thomas said of his conversation with Miller. “There was excitement, a bit of nerves, a bit of everything. I really wanted to play in that game against the US. It was a brilliant game and you always want to pull on that shirt for your country.
“Throughout the day, I found I had more nerves resting in my hotel room during the day than I did when I actually got out there for warmup and got out there on the pitch for kickoff, so it’s a bit funny – most people think it’s a bit backwards, but that’s the way I felt.”
Now Thomas is hoping playing at the highest level for his country can help him re-launch his professional career, which has stagnated since he found himself out of contract this summer.
“I do think that the last two games have been brilliant for me in the fact that it puts me in the shop window and puts me out there at a good time of the year,” Thomas said. “It says, ‘This is who I am,’ and it increases my stock.
“I’m not sure where I’ll end up right now, but I know wherever I do end up, it’ll be a good fit for me.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.