PURCHASE, N.Y. – Thomas McNamara isn’t predictable, not on the soccer field or in the barber’s chair.
While the magnificent mullet he donned in his rookie season with Chivas USA is gone, the second-year midfielder’s flair on the field – not to mention his beautiful equalizer in New York City FC’s 2-1 win at Philadelphia last weekend – has impressed NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis.
“He does things a little differently. He’s just a little bit different in his game,” Kreis said. “When you look at it at first you’re not sure what to make of it, but at the end of it all you see training session after training session, he’s scoring goals and making assists and then he steps into the game and makes that wonderful goal that gets us going in the right direction. It’s the end product you have to like with guys like that.”
McNamara scored his second career MLS goal last Saturday, picking up Kwadwo Poku’s pass in the middle of the Philadelphia third, cutting in on his right foot and unleashing a long-range bomb that curled into the top corner in the 53rd minute. The goal pulled NYCFC level, setting up Patrick Mullins’ late winner that ended the club’s 11-match winless run.
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“Sometimes that’s what you need, someone who comes in with a bit of a fresh perspective, someone who hasn’t had to bear a lot of the burden of the difficult results we’ve had for so long here, just comes in and throws caution to the wind a bit and takes his opportunity,” Kreis said.
McNamara downplayed the personal significance of his goal, focusing rather on what it meant to the expansion side.
“It was good,” McNamara said. “It’s always nice when you score, but what feels even better and what’s more important is that we got the three points and broke that streak.”
The 24-year-old had a tremendous start to his professional career. A second-round choice of Chivas USA in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, McNamara scored on his pro debut last March and immediately drew attention – for better or worse – for his unique hairdo
“That was probably the craziest hairstyle I’ve had,” said McNamara, who sports a more conventional style with NYCFC. “I had a couple different ones, but nothing quite to that degree.”
A positive rookie season came to an abrupt end when he tore his right ACL and medial meniscus in a game against the Portland Timbers on April 12, 2014.
“That was my first major injury, first surgery,” McNamara said. “It’s part of what can happen. I worked with some great people along the way, especially the last step with the training staff here. I feel good now. Everything is back to normal.”
D.C. United selected McNamara in the 2014 MLS Dispersal Draft, and a month later the West Nyack, N.Y. native learned he would be coming home when he was picked by NYCFC in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft. So far it’s been a sweet homecoming for McNamara, who’s hoping to keep contributing as NYCFC look to get their campaign back on track.
“It’s pretty special to represent your home state, your home city,” McNamara said. “I’m just really enjoying it at the moment, and I’m just trying to be a good ambassador for the club.”