Dallas Soccer DFW

FC Dallas's Thompson staking his claim

Published 6/6/2007 1:17:29 AM by staff from mlsnet.com

Whenever FC Dallas forward Abe Thompson is part of his side's starting 11, good things happen. In four starts so far in 2007, the third-year University of Maryland product has one goal and two assists. Last season, Thompson started six of the final eight games for FCD and had one goal and four assists. Then in his playoff debut against Colorado, he netted a goal in the first leg of the 2006 MLS Western Conference Semifinals.

Thompson's first start of 2007 came on May 12 at Kansas City. He came into the starting 11 because captain Carlos Ruiz had missed two days of practice earlier that week and wasn't starting as punishment for that absence.  He made the most of his opportunity, assisting on Kenny Cooper's third goal of the year. Then, five days later, in front of a national television audience at Chicago, Thompson gave Juan Toja a beautiful ball and the Colombian midfielder netted his second goal of the year, which proved to be the game-winner in a win against the Fire.

Last Sunday at Houston, Thompson netted his first goal of the season, albeit in a losing effort. It was his second point in as many games against Dynamo dating back to last season. On Sept. 2, 2006, he assisted on Arturo Alvarez's goal, which gave FCD a 1-0 win against their in-state rivals, which remains the Hoops' only win over Houston to date.

"I'm pleased and happy to contribute when I get my chances, which haven't been that many," Thompson said. "I am patient but when I get put out on the field, I feel a need and pressure to contribute because there's (fellow forwards) Carlos (Ruiz), Dom (Oduro), Kenny (Cooper) and Arturo (Alvarez) that are going to if I don't. If I want to keep my spot, I need to make sure that I'm dangerous by scoring goals and creating assists."

Last fall, Thompson was paired up top with Ruiz and performed well. This year, it's more of the same but this season has seen him match up with Cooper instead of Ruiz.

"We're all professionals and it's our job to make things happen regardless of who we're playing with," Thompson said. "I don't really pay attention to who I'm playing with. I just stay focused on being dangerous and causing problems for our opponents."

Thompson's role becomes even more crucial considering that FCD could likely be without Ruiz for much of June as the Guatemalan international has been called up by his country's national team for the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

"Ruiz is a presence up there and defenses key on him. We have to make sure in his absence that we're carrying that same sort of presence so that other teams' defenders are alert," Thompson said. "They might have a tendency to relax since they don't see Carlos out there and when they do that, it's our job to make sure we punish them for it."

Admittedly, Thompson and FCD didn't have the best of games in a 2-0 loss at Chivas USA on May 26, but he and the rest of the Hoops look to bounce back from a pair of disappointing second-half performances on Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Pizza Hut Park.

"I definitely didn't have a good game against Chivas," he said. "Both this weekend and last weekend were the same situation for us. In both games, we played well in the first half but in the second half, we came out and played pretty badly both times.

"We let both games get away from us in the second half. We need to make sure we continue to play well in the first half but not lose focus in the second half. We have to show more mental toughness and be able to close games out."

Thompson said he thinks that some of FCD's offensive inconsistency can be attributed to a midfield that is almost entirely different from a year ago.

"I definitely think we're not completely there. We can feel it's coming and it's evident that it's there in spurts. But for whatever reason, we can't pull a full 90 minutes together," he said. "I think a little bit of that might be because the midfield is new. Guys are still adapting to each other's tendencies. I think it's coming together and over the next four or five games, we will look to solidify ourselves and get on the same page for the full 90."

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