Goalkeeper Johnson retakes starting role in Chicago

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has reclaimed the starting role.

Johnson, who turns 22 on Tuesday, was benched in favor of Jon Conway after a miserable performance in the Fire’s fourth game of the year, a 4-2 loss at Portland on April 14.

The second-year keeper didn’t play again until this past Tuesday, when he started the Fire’s US Open Cup match at the San Jose Earthquakes. He then got the nod again on Saturday, returning to league play in the Fire’s 2-2 home draw against those same Earthquakes.

Highlights: Chicago 2, San Jose 2

Get Microsoft Silverlight

“Him coming back was good and his performance today was good,” Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos told reporters after Saturday’s match. “It’s my intention to keep putting Sean in goal.”

Johnson wasn’t at fault on either of San Jose’s goals on Saturday. He made three saves and commanded his area well.

“It was good for me,” Johnson said. “For the first game back, I’m satisfied. Obviously I’m disappointed in the result, coming out with a 2-2 tie when I think we played better than that and deserved a win, but for a first outing I’m definitely happy.”

Last season, Johnson was a revelation. He started 13 matches and received praise for talent despite his youth. But this year, he struggled early. After sitting on the bench for the past six or so weeks, the young ’keeper appears to have found a new perspective on things.

“It forced me to re-evaluate, take a step back and try and get back to the basics,” he said. “I think I did a great job to support when I needed to support, and now when I’m called upon to play and do my job, I’m [ready.]”

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