TUKWILA, Wash. — Eddie Johnson’s “pay me” celebration may have been seen as controversial in some Major League Soccer circles, but the Seattle Sounders don’t seem particularly concerned.
“I’ve said it before, Eddie is underpaid at this point and we’ll address that behind closed doors,” Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer told reporters on Monday. “For me, as long as those sorts of things aren’t getting in the way of us winning a championship, I couldn’t really care less. When it becomes a distraction to the team, then it’s an issue with me. For now, we picked up a great win, Eddie was a huge part of it, he was great with his teammates, so for me it’s not an issue.
“A little controversy, a little interesting flavor to some of our games isn’t always a bad thing.”
Johnson has previously voiced his desire to receive a raise on Twitter, but his celebration following the game-winning goal in Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew was by far his most public pronouncement. The goal gave Johnson a team-leading seven goals on the season, three of which have come in his last four matches.
Despite Johnson’s very public display, however, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid echoed Hanauer’s sentiment on Monday and insisted there was no locker room discord.
“Hopefully, there will be some kind of agreement that will be able to be reached that will solve it,” Schmid said. “He’s playing well, he’s working hard for us, he was engaged in the game, it didn’t take away from his engagement in the game. Even when I subbed him out, he was fully committed to the team, he was happy as anyone when we won, he was as animated and fully involved in the game.
“That’s what I’m looking for in a player. I need a player who’s committed to the team, who’s committed to winning games, which he is.”
Johnson joined the Sounders before the start of the 2012 season after a series of unsuccessful stints in Europe. His struggles abroad were a major reason he was willing to sign a contract now considered a bargain-basement deal, especially considering his success this season and his club-record 14 goals last year.
But if his lack of a big paycheck is what’s motivating Johnson now, that’s apparently okay with the Sounders.
“To me it was nothing more than a little bit of emotion coming out,” Hanauer said. “Again, Eddie has earned some more money. We’ll work on that. He understands the salary cap issues and that it may not come as fast as he wants, but we’re working on it.”