"I'm happy to be somewhere where I think I'll get a lot of opportunities and chances to prove myself," a sweat-drenched Thomas said after his first practice with Toronto on Thursday. "It wasn't happening in Kansas City at the time so I'm happy to be at a place where we're starting to turn things around."
The 25-year-old Thomas signed with his hometown club in January 2012 but only appeared in seven MLS matches for Sporting Kansas City. Toronto gave up a second-round pick in the 2015 draft to get him.
"The past year and a half has been a little bit frustrating," he acknowledged. "Not playing as much as I would like to. To come somewhere where you know you're wanted really brings a lot of confidence back. I can't wait to get out there and really prove myself."
The five-foot-10, 170 pounder describes himself as a centre midfielder, although he has also played centre back.
"I consider myself a workhorse in the middle, a two-way midfielder. I can contribute offensively, score goals, get assists, but love to work hard and get back defensively as well. I've always been complimented about my work ethic and that's what I'm going to bring to the table every day. I work my tail off."
Thomas was drafted 19th overall by San Jose in the 2010 SuperDraft but elected to follow his dream and sign overseas with Swedish first division team Halmstads BK before moving to fellow Swedish side Ljungskile SK some six months later.
"It was a risk but I was willing to take it," he said.
"It was a great experience, great country," he said of his two years in Sweden. "The calibre of play is very good too. It's more of an aggressive league and direct, but to be able to get over there, play some games and get some experience at a young age was something that was very good for me."
Ready for a new challenge, he relished a chance to sign with a Sporting Kansas City team on the rise.
He grew up in Olathe, some 20 minutes outside Kansas City. The move also reunited him with former Fighting Irish and local club teammate Matt Besler.
"At the time it was a dream come true," he said.
He leaves "with all the respect in the world" for Sporting Kansas City, he said.
The team seems to share that opinion of him.
"Michael has an incredible attitude and work ethic while he was here," KC manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. "The decision was of mutual consent. Toronto is a team that was very interested in him and we wish him all the best with the opportunity."
Thomas came to Toronto's attention via Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark, who knows Toronto's coaching staff and has used TFC's training ground.
Thomas scored 19 goals and added 13 assists in 81 starts at Notre Dame. He went to South Bend after helping his high school team to three state titles.
Thomas, whose salary is listed at US$60,713 this season, will wear No. 18 at TFC. He wore No. 8 at high school and college and was No. 1 at his local club team growing up.
He combined that to be No 18 professionally although he took 88 (the year he was born) in Kansas City because No. 18 was already taken.
NOTES — The days of midfielder Terry Dunfield are indeed over at Toronto. The club has replaced a large photo of the Canadian international, who was cut in mid-June, at its training centre with one of Argentine midfielder Matias Laba.