Eddie Johnson wanted to get his due. D.C. United just wanted their groove back.
Both sides got what they needed on Tuesday.
Weeks after closing the books one of the most anemic offensive seasons in Major League Soccer history, D.C. announced they have landed the veteran striker from the Seattle Sounders, giving the club one of the top scoring threats of the past two seasons in MLS and a likely US national team contributor in the World Cup next summer.
Johnson, 29, scored a combined 23 goals during the past two seasons for Seattle after returning to the league in February 2012. He heads to D.C. United in exchange for an undisclosed amount of allocation money.
“Eddie is coming off a terrific year with Seattle and the USMNT, and we are very pleased to have acquired him,” said D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper in a press release. “He is one of the most dangerous attacking players in MLS, and we believe he will be an important contributor to our team.”
Rumors of the trade were first reported earlier this week by the Washington Post, which also indicated that the LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and Philadelphia Union were all interested in making the move.
Johnson – who debuted for Dallas in MLS in 2001 and later suited up in England and Greece between 2008 and 2011 – scored a franchise-record 14 goals for the Sounders in his first season back on American soil and leveraged that into a return to the US national team fold. He appeared in career-high 15 games for the United States in 2013 and scored five goals, including the first goal of the US’ 2-0 win over archrival Mexico during World Cup Qualifying on Sept. 10 in Columbus, Ohio.
Signed to a bargain deal by the Sounders after his stale final stretch in Europe with Fulham and Championship club Preston North End that failed to see him score a goal in 27 combined appearances, Johnson’s numbers rocketed back in MLS, and he went public with his seething discontent over his salary in Seattle in September.
After scoring the game-winning goal in the Sounders’ win over the Columbus Crew on Aug. 31, Johnson celebrated by mouthing the words “Pay Me” to all those who would listen at Crew Stadium. By the season’s end the Sounders started leaning towards replacing Johnson, and all but sealed his fate last week by trading for the rights to league veteran Kenny Cooper from FC Dallas.
“I’m excited with this move to the most storied franchise in MLS, and I look forward to getting started with my new D.C. United teammates,” said Johnson in the release.
Johnson played with D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen while with the US national team at the 2006 World Cup and Olsen selected Johnson to the MLS All-Star Game roster in 2012, when he scored the winning goal against English powerhouse Chelsea.
D.C. United, meanwhile, stunningly set a league record in 2013 for fewest wins (3) and scored just 22 goals in 34 games in 2013 after nearly reaching the MLS Cup final in 2012.
Only the 2010 D.C. United team scored fewer goals in a season, with 21 goals in 30 games played.
The club’s offseason makeover has already included the departures of 2011 league MVP Dwayne De Rosario as well as strikers Lionard Pajoy and Carlos Ruiz. The club added veteran midfielder Davy Arnaud via trade from the Montreal Impact last week and defenders Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell via the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft.