WASHINGTON – Eddie Johnson hasn't had much time to think this preseason.
Between a cross-country move, a stint with the US national team and contract negotiations that stretched out until just before opening day, D.C. United's newest Designated Player is only now truly getting acclimated to his new club.
On Saturday evening, just moments removed from his first meaningful match with D.C. United – a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the Columbus Crew – Johnson shared his thoughts on how United are coming along.
"I think we’re a bit down right now, we know that they weren't three goals better than us," Johnson told MLSsoccer.com. "With a result like this, you want to take the positives out of the game. I thought our effort was good at times, I thought we had some chances that we could’ve done better with. At the end of the day, goals change games, and they took their chances when they got them."
Brought in largely to shape United's offense, Johnson has historically been most effective in and around the box and has depended largely on quality service from his teammates to produce goals. After a loss that only saw D.C. put one shot on frame, it's clear that those relationships will take time to build.
"[Our communication is] getting better every game,” he said. “This is still a learning process – my time has been very limited with the team, and that’s what I’ve been reiterating in the papers and in the media, that we had a very small window in preseason. You want to try and get as much understanding from one another. That was a frustrating part [of the Columbus match.]"
That frustration was sometimes apparent on Saturday night. For the most part, the balls that found him were a step too long or short, too hard or too soft, as one might expect from a starting lineup that featured seven new faces.
When asked whether he was happy with the type of service he was receiving, Johnson once again chalked those errant passes up to unfamiliarity.
"We came out with a game plan, and it didn’t work for us,” he said. “This is just about going back next week, taking the things from this game that didn’t go well and also those that did and trying to sharpen our defensive and offensive mentality up. Like I said, I think at times we caused some problems."
“I think he was just a little off the mark," D.C. head coach Ben Olsen reflected after Saturday evening's match. "He made good runs. The balls we delivered to Eddie were just inches to short or just a little too long."