Fire youngster Johnson gets shot with U-23 squad

Sean Johnson

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has earned his first call-up to a US team since senior team manager Jurgen Klinsmann was hired this summer, and he's eager to bend the new coach's ear with every chance he gets.

Johnson was called-up last week to the US U-23 camp that will train in Germany starting Monday. Johnson last participated for a US team in former manager Bob Bradley’s January 2011 camp and earned his only senior cap while there, playing the second half of the team's match against Chile at the Home Depot Center.

“I think it’s definitely a great opportunity for me to get back into the national team environment,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com lat last week. “I’m just excited to get back into it. My time in national team camp in January and before that with U-20s were both very fun experiences and one’s that made me better as a player. It’s an opportunity I’ll definitely try and take advantage of.”

WATCH: Johnson chooses soccer over hoops
Get Microsoft Silverlight

Johnson has the most professional experience of any of the four goalies in camp, which is being held in preparation for the qualifiers to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The second-year keeper is hoping to be a major part of the qualifiers and, should the US qualify, the 2012 games.

“It’s been a goal of mine since I was a kid,” Johnson said of playing in the Olympics. “You see the Olympic Games, the World Cup and I think those are definitely two goals that I want to hit in my career. Now one of those goals is becoming a possibility so hopefully I can become a part of that.”

Johnson has taken a backseat to D.C. 'keeper Bill Hamid under Klinsmann, with United’s 20-year-old netminder getting frequent call-ups to the senior team under the new manager. Johnson and Hamid had similar statistics in 2011, both giving up 37 goals in 28 starts.

A situation like that might frustrate other players, but not Johnson. He reiterated his delight at being given the opportunity to represent his country when asked if his lack of call-ups under Klinsmann added pressure to perform well in next week’s camp.

“I’m just happy to be a part of the national team,” he said. “Whether it’s with the U-23s or the full team, those opportunities will come as my career goes along. It’s just up to me to play well and to represent my country. Right now that’s with the 23’s and I’ll put all I have into that and hopefully later on, whether it be this year or next year. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to train with the full team and be a part of that under the new coaches.”

“I definitely think it’s going to be a great experience,” Johnson said. “A lot of players have a chance to establish themselves as guys to be chosen come qualifying time. So this is a good opportunity for everyone to show themselves.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com