Sounders FC spent the last two and a half years trying to sign Thomás Jaguaribe Bedinelli, the Brazilian midfielder known simply as Thomás. Judging by his first interview after officially joining the club, it seems Thomás always wanted the transfer to be completed, as well.
“I’m very happy to be joining a great team like the Sounders,” he said through a translator. “It’s the team with the biggest fan base in the U.S. I did my research. I’m very happy with the staff and the team, and I plan to be very successful.”
Thomás has been training with the Rave Green for weeks, but only recently did all of the paperwork come through to make it official. The 22-year-old is now on the roster and eligible to play.
Though he speaks very little English, Thomás says he has already developed solid chemistry with his new teammates. He mainly talks to fellow young players such as Darwin Jones and Damion Lowe, but Thomás has also been learning from the veteran attacking players. Because he and Obafemi Martins both played in Italy, the two can communicate with each other in Italian.
“I speak the football language, soccer language,” Thomás said. “They are teaching me English, and I’m teaching them Portuguese. …I’m fitting in very well with the team. Everybody welcomed me very well, and for that I’m very happy. I’m looking forward to contributing as soon as possible.”
Sporting Director Chris Henderson, who scouted Thomás for the last three years, sees the Brazilian as a candidate to compete for playing time on the First Team. There could be opportunities for him later in the summer, when the Sounders will likely have a very busy schedule comprising of MLS, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches.
While he is just 22, Thomás brings four years of professional experience in the top leagues of Brazil, including a brief loan to Italian Serie B side Robur Siena. At age 18, the attacking midfielder signed a contract with Flamengo, one of the most successful teams in the Brazilian first division.
“I think he can play anywhere in the midfield,” Henderson said. “His strengths are probably coming out of wide midfield, so he’ll be in competition with the other guys who have been in good form this year. I think he’s willing to compete and work for playing time, and I think in moments he’ll be dangerous going at players one-on-one. So it’s important for us to keep the ball, and when he’s on the ball, he can make things happen.”
Head Coach Sigi Schmid says Thomás is likely to make his debut – or at least be in the 18 – this weekend when Sounders FC is on the road against Sporting Kansas City. Central midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is suspended for one game, while Martins and Clint Dempsey could also miss the match (Dempsey and his wife are expecting a child and Martins had surgery for a broken nose).
Saturday’s match kicks off at 5:30 p.m. PT on JOEtv with pregame coverage beginning live from Kansas City at 5:00 p.m. PT.