Johnson starts looking like player Seattle thought they had
TUKWILA, Wash. — Eddie Johnson appears to have found his form again.
With two goals in his last game and four goals in his past four, the Seattle Sounders forward is suddenly looking a lot like the player who left MLS at the end of 2007, earned himself a transfer to the English Premier League and was a regular on the United States national team.
Johnson’s seven goals have him tied for eighth-most in MLS and equal his entire professional output since 2008.
WATCH: Johnson skies for brace at Gillette
“I’ve been working hard,” Johnson said following Monday’s training session. “I wasn’t with the team for a full preseason, so it was a frustrating start for me. We all knew it was just a matter of time for the goals to start coming and the wins to start coming. For me, I’m just working hard and feeling good and being pushed by my teammates day in and day out.”
That was especially evident this past Saturday in New England. The most obvious examples were his two goals, a pair of solid headers in which he found open space and then out-jumped defenders for the ball. He had at least one good chance for a third goal when he was able to create some space down the left side, only to be foiled by a clean tackle from behind.
Johnson also came close to picking up an assist when he used a burst of speed to the endline and sent in a cross that Osvaldo Alonso headed just over the crossbar.
But it wasn’t just his offensive production that was impressive.
“His movement was tremendous,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said. “Eddie was chasing down balls. It makes things easier on the midfielders, it makes it easier on defense when you have that collective unit fighting for one thing.”
Although Johnson’s best performance to date came with Fredy Montero out with a red-card suspension, the Sounders are hopeful that form will continue when both are expected to start on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake.
“The object is to succeed and play well together,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said about the Montero-Johnson pairing. “It makes Eddie’s job easier when Fredy’s on the field and playing well and it makes Fredy’s job easier when Eddie’s on the field playing well.
“For Eddie, it has taken awhile to get into a consistent run of games, which he’s got now and he’s rounding into form. Fredy and him can be an explosive combination.”
So far, the two forwards haven’t entirely clicked together. They’ve scored in the same game twice and assisted each other on three of their combined 11 goals.
Johnson says the partnership is still a work in progress, but that there is positive movement.
“This year, we knew was going to be a learning process,” Johnson said. “I’ve had to adjust to the league in coming back. Some adjust faster than others. It has taken me awhile, but hopefully my main thing is to take some pressure off of him.
“I think right now with me feeling good and scoring goals, I think it will free him up a lot more when [Montero] comes back. He’ll get his goals. It’s an ongoing learning thing for [us], but it’s an opportunity I’m up for. It’s a learning opportunity and I think it’s going to work, it’s just a matter of time.”