In 74 career Major League Soccer matches, Wells Thompson has scored two goals.
But on Tuesday night, the midfielder continued his successful scoring record in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches, scoring twice to lead the Colorado Rapids to a 2-1 comeback victory over the Kansas City Wizards in an MLS play-in game at Stanley H. Durwood Stadium on the campus of the University of Kansas City-Missouri.
Thompson, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2007 Open Cup final for the New England Revolution, found the back of the net in the 24th and 80th minutes to offset Teal Bunbury’s first professional goal in the 4th minute for Kansas City.
1,226 fans turned out to see the Wizards take on the Rapids in US Open Cup qualifying at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Photo: Gary Rohman
“I don’t know, I seem to score goals in the Open Cup, but not in the league,” said Thompson, whose team lost to the Wizards 1-0 three days earlier. “It’s great to contribute whenever I can contribute.”
Colorado will play for its first berth in the tournament since 2007 against either the New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union or New England. Philadelphia plays at New York in a preliminary match April 27, with the winner playing host to the Revolution on May 12 for the right to meet the Rapids for a third-round berth in the Open Cup.
Bunbury gave Kansas City a fortuitous early lead. The rookie beat three Colorado defenders on the left side and bent in a cross intended for Josh Wolff, but the ball hit the post and went in past Rapids goalkeeper Stewart Ceus.
Thompson leveled the score 20 minutes later on a corner kick by Jamie Smith. He took a touch and blasted a shot past Eric Kronberg at the near post to make it 1-1.
Argentine attacker Claudio Lopez made his debut for the Rapids, coming on for Andre Akpan in the 79th, and immediately paid dividends against his former team. He found Mehdi Ballouchy, who in turn sent Thompson into the box, and the midfielder finished past Kronberg to the lower right corner to put Colorado ahead.
“I think it’s one of the most spirited and hard-working performances I’ve seen in a long time from the Colorado Rapids,” said Colorado coach Gary Smith, whose team returns to MLS action Sunday with a home match against Toronto FC.
Ceus tipped a header by Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad over the crossbar in second-half stoppage time to preserve the victory.
Indian forward Sunil Chhetri made his first-team debut for the Wizards, playing the first half and picking up a yellow card. Chhetri becomes the first Indian player to play for a Major League Soccer team and only the third to ply his trade outside of his home country.
Scoring KC – Teal Bunbury 1 (unassisted) 4 COL – Wells Thompson 1 (Jamie Smith 1) 24 COL – Wells Thompson 2 (Claudio Lopez) 81
Colorado Rapids – Steward Ceus, Kosuke Kimura (Drew Moor 46), Michael Holody, Scott Palguta, Danny Earls (Marvell Wynne 85), Mehdi Ballouchy, Ross LaBauex, Wells Thompson, Jamie Smith (Jeff Larentowicz 66), Quincy Amarikwa, Andre Akpan (Claudio López 79). Substitutes not used: Matt Pickens, Omar Cummings.
Kansas City Wizards – Eric Kronberg, Jonathan Leathers, Jimmy Conrad, Pablo Escobar, Korede Aiyegbusi (Michael Harrington 46), Chance Myers, Graham Zusi (Stephane Auvray 66), Craig Rocastle, Sunil Chhetri (Kei Kamara 46), Teal Bunbury, Josh Wolff (Birahim Diop 88). Alex Horwath, Davy Arnaud, Aaron Hohlbein.