Abe Thompson’s pair of stoppage-time goals, including the game-winner against Miami FC, gave him the TheCup.us Player of the Round award for Round 3.
In one of the most competitive award votes in recent history, the University of Maryland product edged out Chris Eylander (Seattle Sounders), Marc Burch (DC United), and Ivan Trujillo (Kansas City Wizards) for the honor, which was voted on by the TheCup.us staff and a panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters.
Seven minutes into their Third Round matchup with Miami FC Dallas found themselves down 1-0 after the USL First Division’s leading scorer, Alex Afonso, eluded two defenders and blasted a shot past goalkeeper Ray Burse.
Thompson put the home fans at ease with the first of his two goals in first-half stoppage time.
“I checked back, received the ball and was able to turn. They were giving us a lot of space in the midfield to do that,” Thompson said. “I saw Dominic (Oduro) making a run, played it into him and he held it up, which gave me time to get back up there with him. He played a ball right in my path. I took a touch, had a smack and it went in the upper corner.”
|Most Open Cup goals since 2005|
|Sebastien Le Toux (Seattle) – 10
Melvin Tarley (Minnesota) – 8
Herculez Gomez (LA Galaxy/Colorado) – 7
ABE THOMPSON (FC Dallas) – 6
Andy Herron (Chicago) – 6
Anthony Maher (Wilmington/Carolina) – 6
Johnny Menyongar (Minnesota/Rochester) – 6
Taylor Twellman (New England) – 6Four players tied with 5 goals
After a hard-fought second half, neither team was able to find the go-ahead goal, and it looked like they were headed to extra time. But Dallas avoided their fifth extra time match in the last eight Open Cup games when Thompson struck again.
“I believe (Eric) Avi(la), Mike (Dello-Russo) and Drew (Moor) were on the right side kind of moving the ball around. I was waiting for them to have enough space to cross the ball. It was a matter of timing my run. When I saw Drew open and dropping his head down, I knew he was going to hit it. So, I made a run. He played a perfect ball in and I just had to redirect it.”
Thompson has earned himself a reputation for scoring dramatic goals, many of them coming off the bench as a “super sub.” A few days after the win over Miami FC in the Open Cup, he came off the bench and scored an equalizer in second half stoppage time against the Kansas City Wizards in league play.
“You’ve just got to play for 90-plus minutes and many goals are scored in the late stages of the game, stoppage time being one of those stages, because teams get complacent because they think they have the game won or that the whistle is going to blow any second,” he said. “That’s not always the case and you’ve just got to keep playing until the end.”
As a rookie in 2005, Thompson used the Open Cup to prove himself at the MLS level. He scored two goals in that tournament en route to leading FC Dallas to the Open Cup Final, where they lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0. In 2006, Dallas fell to the Houston Dynamo in the Quarterfinals, but last year he helped the team return to the championship game, with two more goals – including a second-half goal in a 3-2 loss to New England in the Final.
Thompson feels that his contributions in the Open Cup have helped him gain more playing time in league games.
“The Open Cup games are elimination games, so if you’re scoring goals in those games, you’re helping your team prevent being eliminated,” he said. “Goals in any game will translate into more confidence and more playing time on the field. In Open Cup games, you get one shot and you’re done, so goals in those games tend to be fairly important.”
For some MLS teams, the Open Cup is an opportunity to give secondary players an opportunity to play in an elimination game. However, FC Dallas is one of the teams that tends to field stronger teams, and the results reflect that, as the team has advanced to the Quarterfinals or beyond in 10 of its 12 Open Cup appearances.
“Every team has their own priorities and for us here in Dallas, the Open Cup is one of ours because the Hunt family owns our team and it’s named after Lamar. That’s one of the reasons we place such importance on it,” Thompson said. “But we’re also playing for a trophy and for bonus money, so that’s something we want to win. We want to win every championship that we have an opportunity to play in.”
About the NASR
The North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) are a group that consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at www.soccerreporters.com.