When anyone aspires to make sport their profession, the journey will take them through hills and valleys.
There is no greater honour in athletics than to represent your country, which in team sports merits a cap. Soccer goalkeeper Simon Thomas of Victoria earned two of them in 2013, while signing a pro contract with the MLS home-province Vancouver Whitecaps, but now finds himself between teams.
“There’s still a lot going on in the mix and a few possibilities I’m looking at [in the pro levels] and it should be sorted out by January,” said 23-year-old Thomas, whose Whitecaps contract was not renewed.
“It’s motivation to keep going and show them [Whitecaps] they were wrong about their decision.”
The only goalkeeper currently listed on the Whitecaps’ off-season roster is David Ousted of Denmark.
Six-foot-three Thomas did not make an appearance for the MLS Whitecaps last season, spending his time at the club level in 2013 with the Whitecaps U-23 Premier Development League team and later on loan to FC Edmonton of the pro NASL.
After his friendly caps against Denmark, playing the second half, and earning a clean sheet in going the full 90 minutes against the U.S. in a scoreless draw at Houston, Thomas was one of three goalkeepers named to the 23-player Canadian roster for the 2013 Gold Cup, but did not see game action.
As he looks to sign with a new pro club, he said his Canada experience can’t be anything but helpful.
“It was a great honour to prove myself on the international stage,” said Thomas.
“Playing for your country adds value to a club career.”
Thomas, a product of Bays United and Lower Island Metro, is working out independently with a training regimen until he signs with another team.
“When you’re exposed to the pro and international levels, you’re lucky enough to have been under some great fitness programs [to keep following on his own until he signs with a new club],” he said.
And about the vagaries of a career in pro sports?
If you’re not willing to move, and probably often, then pro sport is not the career path for you, noted Thomas.
Meanwhile, amateur goalkeepers still in the Vancouver development system include just-graduated Whitecaps U-18 ’keeper Sean Melvin of Victoria, a Gordon Head product who this fall was an NCAA freshman starter at UNC-Wilmington, and 17-year-old Nolan Worth of Comox, who is set to take Melvin’s starting spot on the Caps’ U-18 squad next season.