After an offseason in which he trained at Everton, attended two US U-23 national team camps and earned his second-ever senior international cap, Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson could probably use a nice long rest.
Johnson took just 10 days off following his nearly month-long stint at Jurgen Klinsmann’s senior national team camp, joining the Fire’s preseason training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on Wednesday. That short rest was about the only break of the offseason for the 22-year-old 'keeper, who reflected on his whirlwind winter during a Thursday conference call with reporters.
“It’s been good, an incredible experience," Johnson said. "It was a lot of traveling. I first flew into Germany [for U-23 camp], then Everton for eight to 12 days and I loved it. Plenty of good people all around and it was a great opportunity for me to learn a lot from those guys."
Johnson particularly enjoyed his second appearance for the full national team, which came in the second half of the US’s 1-0 win at Panama on Jan. 25. The third-year netminder didn’t face many shots against Los Canaleros, but he did do a good job of controlling the box and organizing the defense, which lost center back Geoff Cameron to a red card in the 51st minute.
Johnson first appeared for the national team in January 2011 against Chile.
"The [Panama] game was unbelievable,” he said. “I was brought in the second half, with a man down, and you can’t ask for a better setting for a player to learn from. I learned how to manage things in the game and what it's like to play in a different environment."
Of course, Johnson’s offseason was about far more than 45 minutes in Panama City. It was much more important to him to improve his overall game than notch a cap. He feels he has gotten better and that this MLS season will be his best yet.
"I improved as a player mentally and physically,” he said. “Coming off an entire MLS season and all my experiences combined in the offseason will make me better this season."