The highest selected player in the MLS SuperDraft on the current Fire roster, wasn’t picked by the Men in Red but still has Fire memories from Draft day.
Selected fifth overall by the New England Revolution at the 2007 MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis, Wells Thompson didn’t exactly get the most welcome reception.
Just like they will on Thursday, Fire fans provided one of the biggest fan representations at the 2007 Draft and still had the team’s defeat on penalties to the Revs in the 2006 MLS Cup playoffs fresh in their minds when New England made him their first selection.
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Though he’d yet to even kick a ball in anger for the Revolution, two straight years of playoff defeat caused the Fire partisans in attendance to rain boos down on the moppy-haired Wake Forest product.
“I sort of recall that,” Thompson told Chicago-Fire.com last week. “I was so surprised to be picked and focusing on not tripping up the stairs. I do remember people booing me but I was so in the moment that I didn’t give it a second thought.”
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“It’s ironic that they’re cheering me on now.”
Thompson would go on to knock his future team out of the playoffs with the Revs for a third straight year, assisting on Taylor Twellman’s game winning bicycle kick in the 2007 Eastern Conference championship at Gillette Stadium.
The Draft Process
As he tells it, the whole SuperDraft experience was somewhat surreal.
“I’ve always kind of been the underdog kid. I was recruited to walk on at Wake Forest and ended up earning a scholarship. I had a good college career but I wasn’t an All-American or even an All-Conference selection.
Without strong accolades for his playing resume, Thompson was somewhat surprised to receive an invite to that year’s MLS Combine. After playing well enough at the event, he received a call from Demon Deacons head coach Jay Vidovich telling him that he needed to attend the SuperDraft in Indianapolis.
Generation adidas signees and other highly touted prospects are generally flown to the draft but Thompson joined his parents in paying for his travel to the event.
“My dad describes it like we were the 'Beverly Hillbillies'. That whole week, everybody knew each other from youth national teams or regional teams and me and my parents were just whispering to eachother – we knew who everyone else was but they didn’t know us and we kind of felt like we were the odd balls.
Though they might have felt they didn’t belong, the Thompson family was determined to soak in the experience.
“They show us in to the big room and my dad shoots it straight for the front row. I thought immediately I was going to be the kid that sits up here and doesn’t get his name called but he was super-psyched and wasn’t going to budge on where we were sitting so, I followed him.”
As the draft began, Thompson had an inkling that New England, who were set to pick 11th, were interested in his services but thought things might have changed slightly when the Revolution made a trade with the LA Galaxy to move up to the fifth overall selection.
“I saw that trade and thought for sure they weren’t going to take me at number five. Sure enough they did though. I was so surprised because a dream had just come true and I was just trying not to trip walking up the stairs to shake Don Garber’s hand.
Though he wasn’t welcomed by everyone in the hall that day, Thompson still fondly remembers the experience and perhaps ranks it only below winning MLS Cup with Colorado in 2010.
“I’ll never forget the day, I talk about it all the time with my parents and I always share it when I talk to younger players about dreaming big. I get to play in the league and be a part of the growth of American soccer and that’s where it all started.”