Chicago Fire midfielder John Thorrington was voted Major League Soccer's Player of the Week for Week 16 of the 2008 season. Thorrington scored the game-winning goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time as the Fire defeated Toronto FC 2-1 at home on Saturday night. The victory improved Chicago's record to 7-5-3 (24 points). They now sit third in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind New England.
The teams entered the game with identical records, but Chicago moved ahead on Saturday night as the team struck early, and thanks to Thorrington's tireless effort, finished off late to claim the victory. The Fire opened the scoring in the 6th minute on a long-range strike from Chris Rolfe. Chicago almost doubled their lead in the 21st minute as Thorrington split two defenders at the top of the penalty and passed to Cuauhtemoc Blanco, whose chip shot forced Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton into a finger-tip save.
Two minutes later, Thorrington again wreaked havoc on Toronto's backline, this time beating Tyrone Marshall off the dribble before sending his shot attempt just over the crossbar. Toronto FC tied the game in the 63rd minute as 16-year old Abdus Ibrahim scored his first career goal off a through ball from Amado Guevara.
With the game deadlocked at one goal apiece, Thorrington settled a cross that fell to Justin Mapp who delivered a one-touch pass over the top of the Toronto defense. Thorrington ran by the Toronto FC back line and struck the ball through Sutton's legs for the game-winning goal. The victory brought Chicago's home record to 3-3-1.
After starting only four games in his first three seasons, Thorrington has played in 12 games starting 10 for the Fire this season. He's notched four goals and earned a call-up and his second international cap on June 22 with the United States in their World Cup qualifying match against Barbados. Born in South Africa but capped by the U.S. in 2001, Thorrington started his career with English club, Huddersfield Town. Injuries ended his time in Europe and he joined the Fire in 2005, but saw limited playing time.
Thorrington's rise may have begun in the Fire's last regular season game of 2007 when his second-half stoppage time goal sealed the victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy and a spot in the playoffs for the Chicago.
This is Thorrington's first Player of the Week selection and Chicago's second Player of the Week award this season. Blanco earned the honor in Week 9. Thorrington and the Fire will be back in action when they host Real Salt Lake on Saturday, July 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected each week of the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from The North American Soccer Reporters (NASR). The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at http://www.soccerreporters.com/.
2008 Player of the Week WinnersWeek 1: Terry Cooke (Colorado Rapids)
Week 2: David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 3: Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew)
Week 4: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 5: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 6: David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 7: Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
Week 8: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 9: Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Chicago Fire)
Week 10: Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)
Week 11: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo)
Week 12: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 13: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 14: Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)
Week 15: Adam Cristman (New England Revolution)
Week 16: John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)