Depending upon the time of day, the drive from the Silicon Valley to Sacramento can be a grind.
But Adam Jahn and Tommy Thompson of the San Jose Earthquakes don’t mind the commute now and then. Especially if there is a home-cooked meal and extra playing time waiting for them.
Jahn, a former Jesuit High School star who grew up in Davis, and Thompson, an ex-Granite Bay High standout from Loomis, have combined to play in 84 Major League Soccer matches with the Earthquakes.
But they’ve also played on loan with Republic FC, the Earthquakes’ USL affiliate. Most recently, Jahn and Thompson trained in Sacramento last week and played key roles in Republic FC’s 1-0 USL season-opening win Friday night at Seattle Sounders 2.
Jahn was pulled down in the box by a Sounders defender, which led to Tommy Stewart’s winning penalty kick in the 63rd minute. Thompson was a force throughout the game, playing all but the final seconds of an intense match.
Both are back training in San Jose, though Sacramento coach Paul Buckle said Jahn could return to Republic FC for its USL home opener against Arizona United SC on Saturday at Bonney Field.
“We both see the big picture,” said Thompson, a forward-midfielder. “It’s all about playing and getting games when we can, so we’re happy to have that opportunity. We’re used to going back and forth. It isn’t that bad.”
Said a smiling Jahn, “We’re good soldiers.”
This is Jahn’s second stint with Sacramento. The 25-year-old forward and former Stanford standout spent most of the 2014 season with Republic FC’s inaugural team. He played in 20 USL matches, scored seven goals and helped Republic FC win the USL championship. He also holds a place in the club’s record book, having scored Republic FC’s first home goal in front of more than 20,000 fans at Hughes Stadium.
Thompson’s appearance against Seattle marked the third year the 20-year-old has played for Republic FC on loan. He played in eight USL matches and made five starts the past two seasons. Last August, he had a goal and an assist in Republic FC’s 3-1 win over Tulsa Roughnecks FC that propelled Sacramento to a playoff berth.
For many MLS players, being loaned to a minor-league team can be a hard adjustment. The crowds are smaller, the teammates unfamiliar and the quality of play noticeably lower.
But Jahn and Thompson see Sacramento as their home away from home.
They are familiar with the Republic FC players, coaches and staff. Games at Bonney Field mirror the fervent fan support they enjoy at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium. Both also are extremely popular in Sacramento because of their local ties and energy.
“I’m comfortable in both locker rooms,” Thompson said. “Whether I’m in Sacramento’s locker room or San Jose’s locker room, I don’t really feel like I’m out of place. That makes it really easy, and it makes for a great affiliation. I’m enjoying myself and having a good time playing.”
They’re also pleased by the continued quality of play in Sacramento despite the turnover in Republic FC’s roster. Two-thirds of the players from Jahn’s and Thompson’s 2014 tenure with Republic FC have departed. Several stars also left this past offseason, including team leaders Justin Braun and Rodrigo Lopez.
“A lot of the new guys are good, and the level of play is really high, so it’s fun to play here,” Jahn said.
Added Thompson, “They have reloaded well.”
Buckle anticipates Jahn and Thompson will make more than just cameo appearances with the team this season, though that could change if the Earthquakes are hit hard by injuries, as was the case last season, or have several players on international call-ups. Six currently are playing with their respective national teams.
Buckle said the 6-foot-3 Jahn brings size, skill, experience and goal-scoring abilities to a team that occasionally struggled to put the ball in the net last season.
“He’s a big target who works very hard,” Buckle said.
Thompson, who played on the U.S. Men’s National Team in the U-20 World Cup last year, is a crowd favorite with his remarkable ball skills, speed and balance.
“He’s somebody that really has a hunger for the game, which I love.” Buckle said. “He’s somebody who can score goals and makes goals.”