TUKWILA, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders may be staring at a huge 3-0 hole entering their second leg of the Western Conference Championship, but they’ve got one weapon in their corner that, if deployed properly, could help them pull off the near impossible against the LA Galaxy:
A fully healthy Eddie Johnson.
“I feel good,” the veteran forward reported to MLSsoccer.com after training on Saturday. “This week’s been a good week of training. I’m feeling like my old self, 100 percent ready to go and do whatever we’ve got to do to get a result tomorrow.”
Considering that the Sounders have scored exactly one goal in three postseason games, getting their leading scorer back to full strength couldn’t come any sooner. Johnson has been severely limited since suffering a hamstring strain in the season finale on Oct. 28 against these same Galaxy.
He wasn’t in the 18 in Seattle’s playoff opener vs. Real Salt Lake, then was largely a non-factor in the return leg despite going the full 90. In last weekend's first leg of the Conference Championship in an LA rout at the Home Depot Center, he again was quiet in 25 minutes off the bench in the second half.
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In fact, by Sunday’s kickoff (9 pm ET, ESPN, TSN2/RDS2 in Canada, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), it will have been exactly six weeks since EJ last put the ball in the net. And now that he’s feeling himself again, that’s something he’s eager to rectify.
“I’ve been sharp [in training], playing free again and feeling confident with my hamstring and I’m looking forward to the game,” he said. “I’ll be starving a bit tomorrow for a goal.”
Johnson is keenly aware that he’ll have to play a huge role in leading the Sounders’ comeback efforts, not just with his own scoring ability, but by relieving some of the pressure on his strike partner, Fredy Montero, who is still scoreless in four consecutive postseasons.
And though the odds may be long on Sunday, Johnson agrees with his coach, Sigi Schmid, and says he and the rest of his teammates need to put forth more than they’ve shown up to this point.
“This is where the guys on our team [who are supposed] to step need to step up,” he said. “Including myself, including the rest of the guys. This is it. The city’s been waiting for a championship and it’s time for the guys to look at themselves in the mirror. It’s time to show up.”