Time running out for Thompson
Archie Thompson’s World Cup dream is slipping away. His form at the start of the Hyundai A-League season suggests he’s unlikely to be offered an invitation to join the party in Brazil.
Archie Thompson-s World Cup dream is slipping away.
His form at the start of the Hyundai A-League season suggests he-s unlikely to be offered an invitation to join the party in Brazil.
As he toiled away in the rain last weekend in Parramatta, it must have been the only time in his long and storied career that he wished he was sitting in the stands rather than playing.
Perched high in the distance, he could probably have made out the green and gold tracksuits of his Socceroos mates as they watched Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory engage in an absorbing contest. Thompson wouldn-t be human if he wasn't disappointed not to be among them.
The national team - now coached by the man who had only weeks earlier had been his club coach - had assembled in Sydney, and he was deemed surplus to requirements.
Thompson has done more than most to book Australia-s place in Brazil. After a six-year hiatus, he returned to the national team in 2012 under Holger Osieck, and promptly went on a scoring spree. There were goals in a friendly against Lebanon, a shock defeat to Jordan, and then the decider in the crucial win against Iraq - the result that kept Australia-s World Cup qualification campaign on track.
But this season so far has been challenging for Thompson. Two goals from six games does not constitute a goal drought. However, where teams once had sleepless nights about his ability to cut them to ribbons, now they-re finding ways to bind him in them. Opponents have shown they can curtail his effectiveness and nullify his capacity to determine the outcome of a game.
Often the sign of a striker-s lack of confidence is the frequency of the offside flag being raised. So far this season, Archie has seen more flags than the United Nations building in New York.
The signs are there that his capacity to back his judgement, use his acceleration, bend his run, pick his moment and hit the target is diminishing.
Thompson is not being helped by absence of a successful collaborator - he's always at his best working in tandem.
Last season with Marcos Rojas, he formed a deadly partnership as they stalked the wings and swooped on unsuspecting defences from wide areas. Prior to that Danny Allsopp was his partner, and their ability to compliment each other led to piles of goals for each.
So far he-s yet to find the same 'simpatico' with either James Troisi or Mitch Nichols. Both are new to the club, and are facing challenges of their own to establish themselves in the A-League, let alone to pursue any ambitions they may have for higher honours.
All this is terrible timing for Thompson, who will be keenly aware that Ange Postecoglou is not one given to sentiment. Archie engenders an 'esprit de corps' amongst the national squad that Osieck valued highly, but that's unlikely to be an asset Postecoglou will prioritize.
Thompson-s contribution to the establishment and success of the Hyundai A-League is unmatched by any other player. Anyone who had a heart would want to see that rewarded with a trip to Brazil in 2014. But whether he gets one last chance to put his case for a seat on the plane time only will tell. And that time is surely now.