Chicago's Johnson working hard to bounce back

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson burst onto the scene in the second half of last season, turning heads with numerous highlight-reel saves and showing confidence well beyond his 21 years of age.

His strong rookie campaign created big expectations for 2011 – expectations to which he has yet to live up. 

Johnson struggled in the first four games of the season, making simple mistakes that cost his team and, after a dismal performance in Chicago’s 4-2 loss to Portland on April 14, cost him his job. Johnson hasn’t played since that rainy night at JELD-WEN Field, losing the No. 1 spot to veteran ‘keeper Jon Conway. 

“It happens,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Mistakes are made, it’s how you bounce back from them that counts. Now, I think it’s just up to me how I come back and keep working and try to bounce back from those games. Who plays is coach [Carlos de los Cobos’] decision. All I can do is practice hard every day. Obviously I’m disappointed that I’m not playing, but it’s one of those things. It’s not my decision.”

Johnson, who shared first team reps with Conway during Tuesday’s practice, said his recent benching hasn’t changed his approach. 

“I’ve always put the work in,” said Johnson.  “I’m not changing my work ethic or anything like that. … Mistakes happen and, unfortunately, it happened at a bad time for us. But there’s nothing that’s going to change as far as my approach to the game.”

De los Cobos hasn’t yet named a starter for this weekend’s match against Vancouver. Johnson didn’t say if he and the manager have had a discussion about the ‘keeper’s future, telling MLSsoccer.com that he’ll keep working hard and hope for the best.  

“I think any talk that myself and Carlos have is between the player and the coach and should stay between the player and the coach,” Johnson said. “I’m just handling the situation, just working hard and when the time’s right, I think Carlos will make the decision that he wants.

“If it’s Jonny or if it’s me, when it comes down to, it I’ll leave it up to [de los Cobos] to make the best decision for the team. It’s about three points at the end of the day.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.