WASHINGTON – There has been a lot of ink spilled about Eddie Johnson in the past couple of months.
Eight goalless games and a snub from the US national team’s training camp – paired with some controversial remarks the polarizing forward made in regards to United’s playing style and personnel – gave media and fans alike plenty to discuss.
On Saturday evening – after the former Seattle Sounder snapped his 736-minute scoreless streak with the game-tying goal in United's 1-1 draw with Montreal – Johnson’s teammates and coaches rallied around him.
"Eddie’s been fine,” United head coach Ben Olsen told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I don’t want to address the EJ issue. It’s not a big deal for us. He’s back here playing for us now, and he’s doing fine. You guys make it more than it is every time.
"It’s good for him to score a goal,” Olsen continued. "Again, he’s in so many good spots – we’ve let him down a lot with lack of service, lack of quality of service. He knows what to do in the six yard box when a ball is delivered properly. We just need to continue getting him that type of service and he’ll keep getting on the board.”
Johnson was a mixed bag on Saturday evening – at times during the games first stanza, he looked disconnected and frustrated, at other times he looked tuned in. His goal – a well-placed header taken about six inches over his defender – was the kind of strike that’s made him a valuable asset throughout his career, and many would argue it was the kind of strike the USMNT could use later this summer in Brazil.
United keeper Bill Hamid has received his own share of call-ups, and was quick to sympathize when it came to Johnson’s exclusion from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man provisional World Cup roster.
"He’s had a good season,” said Hamid. "He fits in our system. He fits our gameplan and we’re delighted for him, we’re ecstatic that he got the goal. Even with all this publicity, he’s able to keep his head down and came up with a quality finish tonight.
"He’s a good friend of mine and I think he deserves to be [in USMNT camp]. But it’s a good thing that we still have him. We are delighted to have him for the whole summer.”
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United captain Bobby Boswell shared Hamid’s bittersweet excitement at having Johnson through the stretch of games he would have missed on World Cup duty. He also shared his thoughts on the controversy surrounding Johnson’s somewhat disparaging comment that his teammates in Seattle were “better guys with more quality on the ball” – comments that Johnson insists were “misperceived.”
"We had a meeting,” Boswell said. "I usually don’t like to bring media into the locker room, but we had a meeting and we talked about it. It’s one of those things – there are a lot of guys that say things, they just don’t end up in the media. He realizes that because of who he is, things are going to get blown out of proportion.
"I think the biggest thing is that he’s the hardest critic of himself. It’s a whole locker room of those guys – we’re harder on ourselves than the media is. He’s been a great teammate thus far. We’re focused more on the X’s and O’s than what’s said in the media – when he’s out there [on the field], we’re a better team.
"That’s the bottom line. Whether he’s scoring or setting them up, he’s found a way to help the team get results. As long as he keeps doing that, we’re gonna have his back.”
Johnson was unavailable for comment on Saturday evening.