One of Ocean City Nor'easters' all-time greats returns to become new head coach
Former PDL Defender of the Year John Thompson becomes 7th head coach in club history

John Thompson new Ocean City Noreasters head coach for 2017

After officially agreeing to become the seventh head coach in Ocean City Nor'easters, John Thompson poses for a photo at the club headquarters in Ocean City, N.J.

The Ocean City Nor’easters are proud to announce one of its all-time greatest players is returning as the club’s new head coach.

John Thompson, the 2004 Premier Development League (PDL) Defender of the Year and a two-time All-PDL selection, has been named the seventh head coach in club history. Thompson will replace Tim Oswald who over the last five seasons, has led Ocean City to a pair of Eastern Conference championships, two PDL semifinal appearances (2012, 2016) and is the winningest head coach in the club’s PDL history (2003-present).

"I am looking forward to putting together another strong PDL squad for the 2017 season and add to the success this franchise has achieved in the past 20 years," said Thompson. "I had some memorable times as a player in the PDL, so to return to the league as a head coach is an exciting prospect for me."

Before joining the club, Thompson, a native of Penrith, England, played his college ball at Lewis University (NCAA Division II) where he became just the 40th player in NCAA history to be named a First-Team All-American three times. After college, he played for the Ocean City Nor’easters from 2002-06 and was a part of the club’s final year as a professional franchise in the D-3 Pro League (2002).

When the club, then known as the South Jersey Barons, transitioned to the PDL the following year, Thompson stayed and helped lay the defensive foundation that led the club to four successful campaigns, including a rare undefeated regular season in 2004 (14-0-4). He was named to the All-PDL team in 2004 and 2005 and remains the only player in club history be named the PDL Defender of the Year (2004). In the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, he helped the team shut out the Long Island Rough Riders (then a professional team), 4-0 in 2005. After hanging up his boots to focus on coaching after the 2006 season, Thompson was an assistant coach with the PDL team and a youth coach from 2007-09. During that time, the club upset three more professional teams and lost a narrow game to D.C. United (MLS) in 2009. Ocean City also reached the PDL playoffs twice (2007, 2009) and reached the national quarterfinals in 2009.

John Thompson (right), poses with Lee Cohen and Neil Holloway (left) after Ocean City was awarded the 2008 PDL Organization of the Year.

"I've so many great memories playing for the franchise," recalled Thompson. "We got locked out of the dressing room in Richmond and went on to lose 8-4 in the craziest US Open Cup game ever [in 2005], knocking four pro teams out of the US Open Cup, and those hard fought games against Reading & Cape Cod, I've played with and against some top lads, and it's been great to see so many of them go on to have professional careers. Ocean City played some very good attacking football in my time and we want more of the same this season."

For Oswald, his five-season run (2012-16) ends with a 47-19-6 record, leaving the Philadelphia native feeling bittersweet about the change as he shifts his focus to his family, his day job and his role as the head coach of the University of Rutgers-Camden men’s soccer team.

During Oswald’s time with Ocean City, 25 players have moved on to play the game at the professional level, including eight players who have been selected in the MLS SuperDraft.

“Coaching the PDL team in Ocean City was an amazing professional experience for me and one that I will always cherish and value in my progression as a coach and leader of a program,” said Oswald. “The team accomplishments and player accolades were clearly a result of a supportive, dedicated, and passionate management team as well as the quality players that we landed year-in and year-out. It's been equally gratifying and humbling to watch those players perform at the professional level. I especially want to thank the Granese family for the opportunity to lead one of the best PDL organizations in the country over the past five years.”

Nor'easters president John Granese has been the owner of the club since the team moved to Ocean City in 2005. During that time, he has hired four of the club’s seven head coaches. While Oswald helped bring a lot of success over the last five years, Granese is excited for what’s next for the Nor’easters.

“I want to thank Tim Oswald for the time, devotion, and the success our club has enjoyed over the last five seasons,” said Granese. “Coach Oz will always be a part of the winning legacy of this proud franchise.”

“We are excited to move into this new era of this long and storied franchise which will celebrate its 21st season,” Granese added. “I want to thank all the coaches, managers, volunteers and fans that have made it all possible. The 2017 season will be John Thompson’s first season as head coach and he brings a ton of experience as a PDL player, a hall of fame college player and a lifetime of coaching and an unmatched passion for the game.”

Thompson will take part in his first Nor’easters team event as the club will hold tryouts for the 2017 season in December. Get the tryout details here.