Image: Danny Thornberry (center) preparing for MLS Cup with his fellow officials
Short-term goal: Improve on 2015.
Long-term goal: Be assigned to an MLS Cup Playoffs match.
When PRO’s Manager of Assistant Referees Greg Barkey asked his roster of officials to write out their targets at the start of 2016, the above two objectives were penned on to paper by Danny Thornberry.
Having made his debut in 2014, the 32-year-old was given 11 MLS assignments in 2015, and handed 12 in the regular season this time around.
That increase in games suggested his short-term goal was complete and, on October 30, he was able to place a tick alongside his long-term objective, when he ran the line at CenturyLink Field for Seattle Sounders versus FC Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinal first leg.
“From a personal point of view, I believe I had a great season,” Thornberry reflected.
“I also welcomed my first child in August, Riley Isabel, and it’s always nice to have another fan in your corner. I am fortunate to have the support of PRO, my colleagues, and especially my wife Lauren.”
Thornberry’s season wasn’t finished after that outing in Seattle, though. He would officiate the Sounders again in 2016, and it was at the MLS Cup.
The Jacksonville, Florida, native was handed fifth official duties for the showdown at BMO Field, and it’s an assignment that carried weight for him personally.
“If you’re selected for your profession’s final match, you must have done something right!
“While it was a surprise to be assigned to my first Playoff match on October 30, you can only imagine the surprise, shock and excitement when I received the call that I had been assigned to the MLS Cup.
“I knew that I had a great season but I didn’t realize how great until I received that assignment. It shows that all the hard work I put in during the offseason, and throughout the year, had paid off.
“After every big game you’re always hungry for more, and that will apply for me in 2017. Hopefully I can build on this season and, if that happens, only good things will follow.”
Image: Danny Thornberry (far left) alongside his PRO colleagues pregame at Yankee Stadium
Thornberry’s duties on game night in Toronto may not have been on the field, but the experience was one he cherished.
“I was fortunate to be assigned with a good set of guys. I may have been assigned to a position not on the field, but Alan, Frank, Joe and Allen included me in every step of the way.
“The fifth official’s main purpose is to serve as a replacement if either assistant referee cannot continue. While the fifth official has no official duties during the match, he/she is there for support and to assist in any pre-game duties.
“I have watched the MLS Cup on television but you don’t realize how much build up there is and all the preparation that goes into it.
“The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible and even from the sidelines you could feel the electricity. I was fortunate to have the best seat in the house and it’s an experience I will never forget.”
Please note, PRO assigns a fifth official to every major cup final.