After being cut by the Blast this autumn, Freddie Thompson said he spent "about a day and a half" being depressed and thinking he didn't want to play in the Major Soccer League anymore.
"Then I picked up the phone and called Tacoma," said Thompson, who was cut during training camp so Blast coach Kenny Cooper could begin to make room for several rookie draft choices.
"Being cut by the Blast seems so long ago," Thompson said. "Coming to Tacoma has been a really, really good thing for me."
Thompson and the Western Division-leading Stars (8-5) will be in town Sunday, 6:05 p.m., for a game with the Blast (7-6). It will be Thompson's first trip back to Baltimore, where he spent the first four years of his MSL career.
Tacoma will play in St. Louis tonight, in a big game in the Western Division. The Storm is on a four-game winning streak, looking to cut into Tacoma's 1 1/2 -game lead.
Meanwhile, the Blast plays Wichita at the Arena tomorrow (7:35 p.m.).
"It has been a wonderful, exciting experience," Thompson said of joining the Stars. "I'm living on the other coast, the guys on the team are great, I'm starting and I even live on a golf course, where eight or nine of our guys live."
So far, Tacoma has been the surprise of the league. When the Stars lost All-Star midfielder Preki, who signed with St. Louis, the offense was expected to suffer. But the defense has sparkled for coach Keith Weller.
"Everyone does their part here," said Thompson. "There are a lot of experienced, good players here who work hard defensively. We're all in the same frame of mind. We know we haven't got a big, power scorer to depend on to score three goals, when we're all having a bad offensive night, but on the other hand, we're not all standing around waiting for someone else to score either."
Thompson, 27, said there are several differences between the Stars and the Blast.
"There isn't as much yelling or as many meetings all the time," he said. "It is much more of a team atmosphere. Instead of a separation between the coach and the players, it is like the coach and the players are all in the same boat."
The demands are also different. With the Blast, Thompson, a defender/midfielder, was expected to produce goals and stop opposing scorers. With the Stars, that's changed.
"I'm not getting the goals here compared to what I got with the Blast," he said. "But here I don't need to score goals. My job is to provide leadership, run end-to-end, help set up plays and play defense. Scoring always helps, but I don't have to do that every game."
A year ago, Thompson produced 18 goals, 19 assists and 30 blocked shots in 49 games. In 13 games this season he has three goals, including one game-winner, one assist, and seven blocks.