Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s busy offseason got a little bit busier on Thursday, when the club announced that the 22-year-old keeper will train with English Premier League club Everton from Dec. 4-10.
Johnson has already spent a good deal of time in Europe this offseason, participating in the nine-day US U-23 national team camp in Germany in November.
The Fire hosted Everton in a friendly match in 2008 and used relationships built from that experience to help set up Johnson’s training stint.
“I think it’s great when you have opportunities like this,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “Everton was here a few years ago and played us in an exhibition match and those relationships that you build go a long way with opportunities like this for guys like Sean.”
Fire goalkeeper coach Aron Hyde told MLSsoccer.com earlier this offseason that Chicago were trying to send Johnson to Manchester United for a training stint. Klopas said that both the Fire and Man. United were open to Johnson training at Old Trafford, but that the timing just didn’t work out.
“I think the relationship is there [with Manchester United] and we could have stuff that we can do in the future with them,” Klopas said. “It just never really moved forward [with Sean]. Everton came in and wanted to make this happen and we just went with this.”
Johnson will get to train with US national team starting 'keeper Tim Howard and under and US goalkeeper coach Chris Woods while at Liverpool-based Everton, both invaluable opportunities that could boost the Fire keeper’s national team stock.
“I think it’s great for Sean to be in a different environment and to continue training at a high level,” Klopas said. “It’s only going to benefit him and our team.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.