HOUSTON – When the Houston Dynamo drafted Jason Johnson in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft this year, club officials talked about his potential and his athletic ability. Nearly 10 months later, he is starting to put those things to good use.
The speedy Johnson has spent the season working to refine his game as he watched older, more experienced players do the club’s work. In the last month, things have changed. He is becoming more a part of the group, and on Wednesday night in a 2-0 win over W Connection in CONCACAF Champions League play, he showed what the confidence from game time can produce, hitting a stunning strike to punctuate a big win in the tournament.
“I think it comes with playing, and when you score a goal like that it definitely raises your confidence,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Anytime you get to play, you feel more comfortable, and he’s played quite a bit here in the last month and a half.”
Added Kofi Sarkodie: “The more games you get, the more confidence you’re going to get, because you start to understand the way our team plays and how to function within the team. I think J’s done that. He’s coming along pretty well.”
Johnson has started three of the last four games on the left side of the Dynamo formation. That time on the pitch has brought consistency and confidence, both seen in the 39th minute when he smashed a sparkling strike for the game’s first goal and his second in a month.
“It’s there a lot more than when I started out,” Johnson said about his confidence. “I’ve been training better, and mentally I’ve gotten stronger. I think that’s the biggest improvement in my game, but I have a lot to improve on.”
The production is the result, but the substance is in Johnson’s reaction to his play Wednesday.
On the whole, he was not perfect. There were balls misplayed and chances squandered, facts that were not wasted on the youngster as he admitted that he took chances he normally would not against a team that he and the Dynamo clearly overmatched.
“My performance wasn’t as good as it should’ve been, but the goal was a good end result,” Johnson said. “Every game’s a learning stone. I’m taking the mistakes I’ve done in this game, and I’ll try and fix them in the other games.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.