Moments after the Montreal Impact announced they had acquired former US international Eddie Johnson via the allocation process, the trade rumblings began.
Roughly an hour later, Johnson was on his way to the Pacific Northwest, as the Seattle Sounders sent Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to Montreal in exchange for the 27-year-old striker, who spent the past four years bouncing from club to club after Fulham brought him across the Atlantic in January 2008.
Johnson, who scored 41 goals in 127 appearances during a seven-year stint in MLS with Dallas and Kansas City, will join a Seattle squad that has spent the past few seasons searching for a consistent partner for Colombian forward Fredy Montero.
"Eddie is a high-quality striker who is a very good finisher," Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson, who coached Johnson at Kansas City, said in a statement. "We are very excited to have him join Sounders FC in our quest for another successful season."
If Johnson can recapture the form that fueled his move to Europe – he scored a career-high 15 goals in 24 games with the Wizards in 2007 – Sigi Schmid will have a pacey option to stretch defenses with Montero, Mauro Rosales and Álvaro Fernández pulling the strings behind him.
That would appear to be a tall task, however, as Johnson didn’t come close to matching his domestic production abroad, failing to score in 18 appearances for Fulham before spending a year on loan at Cardiff City (two goals in 30 games) then scoring five times in 16 appearances with Aris FC in Greece. Johnson appeared close to signing with MLS in August of last year before negotiations stalled.
To get the former US international – Johnson has 12 career goals in 42 games with the national team – Seattle gave up two fan favorites that began to come into their own in 2011. Still, neither has produced in MLS the way the former Fulham forward has.
Neagle (at right) scored five goals and added two assists for the Sounders in 23 appearances (nine starts) in 2011, including a hat trick against Columbus in Seattle’s 6-2 shellacking of the Crew at CenturyLink Field and the game-winning goal against Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park in August.
Fucito contributed two goals and two assists in 19 appearances (13 starts) during his second professional season. He scored one goal in four substitute appearances during his rookie season in 2010.
“We have made our team much stronger today,” Impact head coach Jesse Marsch said in a team statement. “Mike Fucito is a dynamic and talented young forward who we believe is on the verge of having a great year and establishing himself as a very good forward in MLS. Lamar Neagle is a player who is a very good offensive threat from wide positions and has also shown that he can score goals.”
Johnson will join a forward line in Seattle that currently includes former US youth international Sammy Ochoa, veteran Roger Levesque, O’Brian White – who spent much of 2011 recovering from surgery to correct a blood clot in his leg and is still out – and Steve Zakuani, who is still working his way back from a broken leg.
With the move, Montreal move to the back of the allocation order, allowing Vancouver to move into the top spot.