Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen trains during his first stint with the club on Jan. 3, 2018 - the first day of the team's training camp. (Idris Erba / Lights FC)
Goalkeeper Thomas Olsen
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At times, the first few months of Thomas Olsen’s professional career have felt surreal.
Now, the goalkeeper has come home to continue pursuing his dream.
The former Bishop Gorman standout this week became not only the 24th member of the inaugural Las Vegas Lights FC roster, but also its seventh player with Las Vegas roots.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Olsen gives the club three goalkeepers, joining Ricardo Ferriño and fellow Las Vegas native Angel Alvarez.
“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Olsen said. “A year ago, I was in San Diego, and I heard there was going to be a team coming here. In the back of my head, I thought ‘There’s a chance, this is a possibility.’ How exciting? Especially since it’s been a long-time coming. Vegas has a great soccer fan base and a lot of great talent.”
A year ago, he was finishing up a stellar collegiate career at the University of San Diego, where he ranks second in program history in career games started in goal (70), third in career saves (203), three times earned All-West Coast Conference honors and was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2014.
His résumé also includes playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team U-20 World Cup squad in 2015 in New Zealand.
Just a few months ago, as Lights FC opened training camp in early January, Olsen was in camp with the club for its opening stages. Not long after leaving camp to puruse other opportunities, he ended up as a 3rd round selection of the Colorado Rapids in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
He’d end up spending two months training with the club, including one-of-a-kind experience working daily alongside long-time USMNT and Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard and veteran Zac MacMath.
“They’re the best out there,” Olsen said. “Growing up, (Howard) was pretty much my idol. Being out there, you can’t ask for more. I was there for two months, and I progressed tenfold.”
Feeling that he returns to Las Vegas and to Lights FC a much better player than when he last left helps the club, which is attempting to breed deep competition at every position on the field.
“It’s important to have internal competition, that’s what gives a group strength,” said Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sánchez. “If it’s Ferriño (playing), if it’s Alvarez, if it’s Olsen, we’ll always have an excellent keeper on Saturdays. We’re trying to provoke internal competition, and with Olsen – another guy from Las Vegas – we are creating this.”
Olsen re-joined the team late last week on the training field, and now as an official member of the club, gets a chance to pursue his professional dream in his hometown.
Despite being away over the last few months, he’s followed the team from afar as it started its inaugural season in the United Soccer League. Olsen is excited to join a team that, after spending just a little bit of time with them early on in the building process, he expected to enjoy early success.
“It’s a hard-working team,” Olsen said. “That’s what you want. This team is going to go out there every night serious and committed to each other. I was in the locker room last weekend, and it’s a different mentality in there. I’m not surprised at all that they’re doing well right now.”