WASHINGTON – For years, D.C. United have been searching for an elite striker and – much like the product on the field – have missed the mark.
Now, the most attention-grabbing move in a flurry of recent acquisitions by United general manager Dave Kasper has brought 29-year-old forward Eddie Johnson to the nation’s capital and a renewed sense of optimism along with him. And that optimism starts with the hopes that Johnson will be able to revive D.C.’s struggling offense.
“These type of players are not always available,” Kasper said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s very hard to get this type of proven MLS goal scorer, so it’s really a big coup for the club.”
Not since current head coach Ben Olsen played for United has the club featured a regular from the US men’s national team, but that’s what Johnson brings to the table. Kasper and Olsen are hoping he brings more than simply star power, however, as D.C. scored a league-worst 22 goals last season. Johnson scored nine goals last season and 14 the year before that, both with the Seattle Sounders.
“I think Eddie can score goals in a number of ways,” Kasper said. “He’s great in the air, and he’s got pace to beat you behind. He can create his own shot, he’s crafty in the box and he makes hard near post runs.”
Of course, the trick for United will be getting Johnson the ball. The club was near the bottom of the league statistically in crossing accuracy, and only three teams attempted fewer headers than D.C. in 2013, one of Johnson’s more dangerous finishing attributes.
Still, it’s clear that a player of Johnson’s caliber – whom United have been targeting for a while – can make an immediate difference, especially given the other moves D.C. have made this offseason.
“He holds the ball well, and that’s an important part of his game that will serve us well,” Kasper said. “In between the lines he shows well. He’s strong, and he’ll bring the attack forward into the final third nicely.”
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“There have been quality players available this year, so we’re lucky in that sense,” Kasper said. “It’s great to get MLS-proven players, while last year we made a big effort in the middle part of the season to go out and get some young players so we could get them experience as well.”