Call-up keeps Toronto FC's Johnson from resting ankle
TORONTO — With a two-week break just beginning for Toronto FC, Ryan Johnson could have used the time off to recover from his sprained ankle.
But there will be no such luck for the Reds striker — he will be in Ecuador with the Jamaican national team on Friday for a friendly to prepare for CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Johnson missed Jamaica's last match, an Aug. 10 friendly against China in Hefei.
“The reason I didn’t go to China, it was too far and the ankle was too freshly injured,” he said. “That was going to be too much for my ankle. This game [against Ecuador], I wish I could rest it for the break with the rest of the guys.”
Johnson picked up the injury during an Aug. 2 CONCACAF Champions League match in Nicaragua against Real Estelí. The injury did not seem to slow him down in that match — he bagged both goals — and though he has been playing on it ever since, he has still been able to play three of TFC’s past four MLS matches and both CCL Group C matches.
The Kingston-born striker has scored five goals in 13 matches with the Reggae Boyz. And though he won't get a chance to rest his ankle, he doesn't begrudge the chance to represent his country.
“It’s always a privilege to represent Jamaica,” the forward said. “It’s fun to see the guys. Ecuador’s a very good team and it’s going to be exciting to go down there and play. I’m going to try to get as healthy as I can. My ankle is still not 100 percent fit and I will try to get as much treatment on it as I can.”
Three other Toronto FC players have been called to play for their countries in qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup.
Midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield will represent Canada as they play St. Lucia in their MLS home, BMO Field, on Friday. Canada’s second match will be Sept. 6 against Puerto Rico in Bayamón. De Guzman has earned 47 caps for Canada and has scored four goals. Dunfield has six caps for Canada and has scored one goal.
Forward Javier Martina has been called by his native Curaçao for their qualifying matches against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday and against Haiti on Sept. 6.
The call is Martina's first for Curaçao. The striker played for the Dutch U-19 and U-20 teams from 2004 to 2008. Curaçao became an official member of FIFA in March after taking the international spot of the Netherlands Antilles.