One of two rookie goalkeepers on the Orange County Blues' roster in 2015, Billy Thompson made the most of his time on the field in limited action.
A surprise starter in the season opener, Thompson joined the Blues after a collegiate career at nearby Loyola Marymount University and a 2014 USL PDL Goalkeeper of the Year season with FC Tucson, officially joining in March. Although he only made two appearances for Orange County, with Pepe Miranda the established and steady starter, Thompson did show well in his first two pro games.
Although the Blues lost to Arizona United SC in Thompson's debut, that was a rough-and-tumble game that featured several questionable calls and non-calls for both sides by the official. The scoreline was 2-0, but an outstanding performance from Thompson's counterpart, Carl Woszczynski, and a couple penalty appeals falling on deaf ears consigned the Blues to the loss. Thompson did not really set himself apart, but he wasn't woeful in conceding the goals, either.
But his second game, against the Austin Aztex in August, showed what Thompson was capable of. Although luck probably played a role in the Blues holding on for a 1-0 win, Thompson made the crucial play of the game, saving a late penalty and stepping up to make several more key saves to preserve the win. The performance led to leaguewide recognition for Thompson, demonstrating just how deep the Blues appeared to be in the position.
Here were Thompson's complete statistics for the season:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Saves||Save %||Goals Allowed||GAA||Wins||Shutouts|
|USL Regular Season||2||2||180||6||75||2||1.00||1||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
The question, of course, is what this means for Thompson moving forward. Like with just about all USL players, it's hard to say. Like his teammate Josh Cohen, Thompson played very limited minutes and is a rookie, so it's hard to really know what his ceiling is. Thompson looked good in his two appearances, but he couldn't unseat Miranda. Maybe he's being groomed to be the future starter, or maybe he's still an uncertain prospect. It's hard to really extrapolate on just two games.
That said, Thompson appears to have a future as a pro, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's back next season, and gets more minutes. But that's something to wait and see for 2016.
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