TUKWILA, Wash. – Eddie Johnson admits he was a little annoyed about getting an unexpected call-up to the US national team for the Gold Cup.
The Seattle Sounders forward had not scored in five straight club appearances, his team had gone 1-4-0 in those games and several of his teammates were out with injury. Johnson knew it was not the most opportune time to leave.
But after scoring a couple goals and helping the US win their first continental title since 2007 – a squad Johnson also played on – he now suggests a break from his club team may have been just what he needed.
“I think for me, it was good to get away because it was a bit frustrating for me in previous games,” Johnson told reporters on Wednesday. “To get in the locker room and get that fight and that hunger and that desire and that commitment back and that winning mentality, I want to bring that back from the national team here in Seattle.”
Johnson would also like to bring back the form he flashed with the Yanks. After going 433 minutes since his last MLS goal, he managed to score twice in just 220 minutes at the Gold Cup.
Part of the uptick in form, Johnson acknowledged, was that the quality of service he received.
“You’re playing with better players — that’s the reality of it,” he said. “We all know that. You guys know that. You get the balls at certain times when you make those runs and you get that right service. Those are the best players in our country.
“So it’s me being more patient when I’m here, because I’m not going to say every ball I get on the field is perfect. So it’s me being patient and believing in the players that are around me.”
When asked about those comments, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid suggested the Sounders' crossing has been getting better but also did not refute them.
“Service is certainly an important part of it,” Schmid said about Johnson’s scoring drought. “At the end of the day, you've got to keep working. Nobody is out there saying, 'I'm gonna hit a bad cross.' Everybody is trying to hit a good cross. We've got to keep making our runs and keep doing our things. Eddie's been doing that.”
At the same time, the Sounders seem to have been playing better without Johnson. Not only did they go 1-0-1 during his most recent absence, but they’ve gone 4-0-2 without him since April 13.
Still, Schmid says Seattle’s best long-term option is to figure out a way to have Johnson on the field with Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle. The trio has combined for 15 of the Sounders’ 24 goals, but has only started together twice.
“It’s just finding the right mix of ability, skill, effort, who does this little job, that little job,” Schmid said. “As long as we can get all those things going in that direction, we’ll be successful with all those guys on the field. They need to get out there together in order to establish who does what.”
Johnson says he’s willing to perform any task asked of him.
“Whatever my role is, just like it was with the national team ... if it’s coming off the bench, if it’s starting, I’m looking forward to whatever I have to do here,” he said.