COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When the news first appeared that former Colorado Rapids midfielder Wells Thompson had requested a trade, and was subsequently dealt to the Chicago Fire for a conditional draft pick on Monday, it caught many off guard.
Thompson started only five games in 2012 after making a career-high 22 starts in 2011 and, according to Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja on Monday, had requested a trade “some time” ago.
The Rapids tried him at defensive midfielder along with his usual winger position as well, but the former No. 5 overall SuperDraft pick couldn’t seem to find a way to crack the starting lineup.
“It’s part of the game,” Pareja said on Monday. “There’s 30 players, they all want to play, and it’s normal. And when players are older, it’s normal.”
Pareja said the team and Thompson had a “professional” parting and that the midfielder was never a distraction despite his trade request. But despite the seemingly amicable split, it was still difficult for some players to take.
“We’re going to miss him,” said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, who came to the Rapids with Thompson from New England in a January 2010 trade. “I’ve been with him his whole career. But clearly, it’s a situation where he wants to play, he wants an opportunity. As a player, you can’t ask for more. When I texted him the other day, I just said ‘good luck’ and hope it works out.”
Thompson was named the Rapids’ 2011 Humanitarian of the Year for his active involvement in the local community, participating in a variety of charities and organizations which made him a fan favorite as well.
“Everyone here at the Rapids will miss Wells, who was a wonderfully positive presence in our community,” Rapids president Tim Hinchey said in a team statement on Monday night. “He made a strong impression on the club, from the fans to the front office to the locker room, and we will all work to continue his commitment to service and charity.”
At age 28, however, Thompson is looking for more consistent playing time, something he hopes to find in the Windy City.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.