Longtime MLS forward and former US World Cup veteran Eddie Johnson has officially retired.
On Sunday, Johnson announced his retirement after 14 seasons as a professional player, bringing to a close one of the most remarkable careers in US soccer history.
Johnson, 31, began his career as a 16-year-old second-round draft pick for FC Dallas (then Dallas Burn) in 2001. Fourteen years later, he leaves the game after more than 300 professional appearances in MLS, England, and Greece, with 90 professional goals to his name. He earned 63 international caps for the US national team, including two appearances at the 2006 World Cup, and scored 19 international goals.
"Eddie had many outstanding accomplishments during his career and was a valuable member of the team during his time with D.C. United,” said D.C. United General Manager and Vice President of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper in a release. “He will be missed but always remembered as he moves on beyond the playing field.”
The Bunnell, Florida, native, who often found himself in the headlines because of his outspoken nature and lively social media presence, made MLS stops with FC Dallas, the Kansas City Wizards, Seattle Sounders and D.C. United, scoring 71 goals in 202 regular season games (162 starts) and three goals in 14 career playoff appearances.
Johnson's MLS goalscoring exploits – highlighted by a 15-goal, six-assist season for KC in 2007 – drew the interest of English Premier League club Fulham, who paid a $6 million transfer fee for him in January 2008.
At Fulham, Johnson joined old friend and USMNT teammate Clint Dempsey, but Johnson struggled to adjust to life in the EPL, failing to score a goal during his time with the Cottagers and being sent out on loan to Cardiff City and Preston North End in the English Championship and to Aris in the Greek Super League.
Johnson returned to MLS in 2012, signing with the Seattle Sounders, for whom he made an immediate impact. He scored 14 goals in 28 games in his first season at CenturyLink Field, and was named the MLS Comeback Player of the Year. He notched nine more goals for the Sounders the following season.
But relations between Johnson and the Sounders broke down over a contract despite – a goal celebration in Columbus that doubled as a plea for higher pay perhaps the most public example – and Johnson was dealt to D.C. United ahead of the 2014 season.
At United, Johnson signed a Designated Player deal, but failed to find the same form he had enjoyed in Seattle. He scored just seven regular-season goals in a season that saw D.C. finish atop the Eastern Conference.
On the international level, Johnson first burst on the scene in 2000 as a US U-17 forward, scoring 23 goals in 25 appearances over two years. He then won the Golden Shoe at the 2003 U-20 World Cup, with four goals and an assist.
After enjoying a 12-goal season for Dallas in 2004, he made his senior national team debut as a 20-year-old on October 9, 2004, in a World Cup qualifier against El Salvador. He scored his first senior goal in that game, and followed it up by scoring a hat trick in 25 minutes against Panama four days later to establish himself as one of the most exciting US prospects in the player pool.
Johnson’s goalscoring exploits during qualifying for the 2006 World Cup earned him a place on Bruce Arena’s squad in Germany, where he made two appearances. He was a member of the 2007 Copa America and 2007 Gold Cup squads, but was left off the 2010 World Cup team by head coach Bob Bradley.
As his club form ebbed and flowed, his international career followed. After missing out on 2010 World Cup, Johnson earned a recall to the US team under Jurgen Klinsmann and he paid divdends with seven goals in 19 appearances in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup.
But, again, Johnson was not a part of the final squad that traveled to Brazil.