Johnson growing into star role
FCdallas.net had the opportunity to sit down with Eddie Johnson to ask him about the enormous attention surrounding him recently, his thoughts on playing in Europe and his goal for the 2005 Major League Soccer season.
FCdallas.net: How have you dealt with the ever-increasing attention surrounding you both on and off the field?
Eddie Johnson: "It's my job to deal with the stuff that has been thrown my way. From the fan standpoint, I love it. I love being recognized by fans when I'm going out to eat somewhere. A few years ago, people saw me as a young kid who has potential and now that I am scoring goals it feels good to get noticed. I love when fans come up and congratulate me on the success I've been having. That makes me want to work even harder. From the media standpoint, it has been confusing to be honest. I think I've dealt with it just fine, but it has been an adjustment for me. Some of the people at the league level have told me that they are happy with the way I have been handling everything and how humble I have been. It means a lot to me when you have the Commissioner of the league calling me and telling me he is happy with the way I have been handling myself."
FCdallas.net: What do you think about this FC Dallas squad and the chances you have to bring a championship to Texas this year?
EJ: "Right now, we are off to a great start. We have the players here that we need to win. [Head coach] Colin [Clarke] and [General Manager] Greg [Elliott] have been a big part of making that happen. It's early right now, but what I like about our start is that we are not playing our best and we are still winning games. That's the scary part because when we start playing to our potential and gelling, we could do some serious damage. I thought last week we did a great job of continuing to get chances on Los Angeles despite being down 2-0. We don't put our heads down like we did two years ago. We go out there regardless of the score, play hard and do our best to get good results."
FCdallas.net: There has been so much talk about you leaving Major League Soccer and going overseas to play. What do you want to say to the FC Dallas fans who would love to see you continue to grow here in Dallas?
EJ: "I just want to say to the fans, especially to the Inferno, they have been supportive of me even when I wasn't playing. I couldn't owe it to them any more then to be here and do my best to win a championship for this club. Those are the people that have kept me going, even when I wasn't playing. When I first got here I always felt like the fans cared about me and I really appreciated that. This is my chance to give it all back to them by scoring goals and helping this team win. Right now I'm here and doing my best to score goals and I really don't want to leave until I win a championship."
FCdallas.net: What are your thoughts on how the 4-3-3 has worked for Ronnie O'Brien, Carlos Ruiz and yourself?
EJ: "I think it's working for us. Last week at Los Angeles was a good test for us because we played against a well organized defense over 90 minutes. In the 4-3-3, it's hard for a defense to figure out what we are throwing at them. Colin gives Ronnie and I the freedom to switch to either side at any given moment during the match. Because all three of us (Ruiz, O'Brien and Johnson) can go anywhere we want, it's hard for the defense to mark us. Even against a team like Los Angeles, I felt like we were able to break them down and create some very good scoring chances. Even when I don't score in a game, people are telling me I played well because there are certain things that goal scorers have to do during a match besides score goals. I think all in all the system has been working."
FCdallas.net: What is a goal that you have set for yourself for this MLS season?
EJ: "My goal is for the team to do well. I haven't really set an individual goal for myself. It's always the team first and for me to score goals and be happy. I'll do my best to try and take this team as far as I can. You can't ask for anything better then playing in the championship in Frisco so I would have to say that my goal is to win a championship. It takes all 11 of us to accomplish that goal."