Eddie Johnson is well aware of what it cost to bring him to the Seattle Sounders.
And if he was hoping to show that he was worth the trade that sent Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to the Montreal Impact, scoring the game-winning goal on Saturday against the Chicago Fire – his first MLS goal since 2007, and his first in any league since 2010 – was not a bad way to start doing it.
“The team sacrificed a lot bringing me here,” Johnson said after the match. “It’s my second [start] and it’s important to get off to a good start. Without the effort from my teammates and the guys around me tonight, I don’t think that goal would have been possible for me.”
HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 1, SEA 2
The former US international struck for Seattle in the 67th minute, pouncing on a loose ball in the box after Jhon Kennedy Hurtado mishit an acrobatic attempt off a free kick. Johnson picked up a knock on the play that cut his celebration short, and he was forced to come off the field for several minutes to recover. Johnson eventually came back to close out an 89-minute outing, by far his longest of the season.
The 28-year-old had nearly opened his Sounders account six minutes before, but his header rang off the post to leave the score at 1-0.
“It helped his confidence tremendously,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Plus he also basically played 90 minutes which is going to help him continue to grow in his fitness, and eventually the timing and so forth. Eddie’s timing within the game, I thought his touch was not the best in the first half; it was something we talked about at halftime. I thought his touch was better in the second half. ”
Johnson also helped set up the Sounders’ first goal, and was originally credited with an assist before it was officially ruled an own-goal. Johnson slipped a ball in to strike partner David Estrada in the 39th minute, whose ensuing shot deflected off Chicago defender Arne Friedrich and past a helpless Sean Johnson to put Seattle ahead.
It was that kind of night for the Sounders, who improved to 4-1-1 and are now 6-0-1 in their past seven MLS road games. The last time the Sounders lost an MLS match on the road was July 30, 2011.
The one thing that didn’t go the Sounders’ way was the goal they surrendered, which snapped a 336-minute shutout streak. Marco Pappa was able to curl his corner kick inside the far post in the 89th minute, spoiling what would have been the Sounders’ third consecutive shutout.
Shortly after the goal, Johnson attempted to help his team one last time by milking the clock when he was subbed out. Referee Michael Kennedy didn’t appreciate the effort, and issued Johnson a yellow card for time wasting and even seemed to tack on a few minutes to stoppage time.
“It wasn’t the best performance from us, but sometimes you have to win ugly,” Johnson said. “We’ll take the three points.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.