TORREÓN, Mexico – All signs point to Eddie Johnson playing for the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night, but in just what role remains unclear.
Johnson trained with the Sounders at Estadio Corona on Monday night in advance of Tuesday's second leg against Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). Johnson, who missed the Sounders' 1-0 loss in the first leg with a hamstring injury, said after practice that he felt good but made no indication as to whether he would get the nod as Seattle attempt to erase the 1-0 deficit they currently face.
“I got a chance to run around with the team again today and move around and make more game-decision runs on the field,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com. “I felt great and I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid did not reveal whether Johnson would come off the bench or start, saying the club would make a decision on Tuesday.
Either way, Johnson provides a lethal attacking weapon for the Sounders that was missing in the first leg. The US international has big-game experience and his speed is a valuable asset, especially when "counter-punching," as Schmid described Seattle's strategy against attack-minded Santos.
Johnson is confident that the Sounders will get their opportunities but he also believes that Seattle cannot afford to frantically chase the game too early, even if it remains scoreless.
“It’s 90 minutes long. You’ve got to let the game come to you,” Johnson said. “You can’t get caught up in the emotions, you can’t get caught up in them possessing the ball. If they are possessing the ball in the back, it’s not hurting us.
“It’s just that mental concentration and focus that we’ve got to have for 90 minutes to let them knock the ball in the back and when we can take our chances to go and press and try and catch them high up the field, and that’s what we’re going to do."