BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Wells Thompson said it was simply time for him to move on.
The veteran midfielder started only five games in Colorado this season under new head coach Oscar Pareja after he made 24 starts in 2011. The sixth-year pro asked the Rapids to trade him, and they obliged on Monday, sending him to the Chicago Fire for a conditional draft pick.
“I don’t think I was in the coach’s plans for the long-term,” Thompson told MLSsoccer.com. “I just felt that out, and I thought it was in my best interest and my family’s best interest to see about somewhere else.
“It’s been a tough year for the club in general, but also for me personally, playing time and that sort of thing. Everybody wants to play, you know? I was just looking for a team I thought I could do that at.”
Thompson, a member of the MLS Cup 2010 champion Rapids, didn’t think that quest for playing time would end in Chicago.
The Fire don’t have an immediate opening in the starting lineup and, before this weekend, Thompson had never heard the team was interested in him.
“Chicago just wasn’t in my mind, so I was surprised,” he said. “They’ve got a great team. I didn’t think Chicago was in the cards, just thinking about the possibility of being traded … I’m just excited to be on a team pushing to make the playoffs and hopefully get a second MLS Cup here.”
After Marco Pappa’s sudden transfer to SC Heerenveen of the Dutch Eredivisie two weeks ago, the Fire were left without much veteran depth in the midfield.
Attacking midfielder Patrick Nyarko has struggled with injuries all season, so Thompson may have a chance to make a few spot starts. Head coach Frank Klopas plans on using Thompson on the left side, and not in defensive midfield, a position he played at times in Colorado.
“He brings us some good depth out wide,” Klopas told reporters on Monday. “He’s another veteran guy who’s been a consistent player in New England and Colorado, and brings experience. He’s technically a very good player and he’s a guy that you can count on.”
Thompson probably won’t find the starting spot that he covets right way, but Klopas said he’d be given a chance to fight for playing time.
“We’ve talked to him, we brought him in, he knows the position he’s in,” Klopas said. “You’ve got to come in with an attitude that you want to be a guy that starting the next game in the way you train, and when you get opportunity to play, making an impact and making those decisions harder for the coaches.”