Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson hasn’t played a single minute this season. When that will change remains a mystery, even to him.
The Fire veteran lost his starting spot to Matt Lampson in the offseason, and last week he apparently fell to third place in the goalkeeper depth chart when he did not dress for Chicago's home match against D.C. United. Patrick McLain was the No. 2 for the Fire in that match.
Johnson told the Daily Herald he has fully recovered from a wrist injury he suffered in late March and his fitness level is top-notch – yet he still isn’t being given a chance to reclaim his spot. He doesn’t know why.
"I really haven't had much discussion about my situation, to be honest," he told the Daily Herald. "That's also (coach Veljko Paunovic's) right as a coach, to have or not have those discussions. At the end of the day, he's the one in charge and he makes the decisions."
"Communication, speaking of transparency and communication, that's his decision whether or not he carries out those things as a coach. I respect his decisions, but ultimately, as a player, I think at this point in my career I need to play.”
On his weekly conference call earlier this week, coach Veljko Paunovic was asked if McLain had taken over the No. 2 spot and he said Johnson was “in the process of getting in the right fitness and right form so he can fight for his spot.” He added that McLain had done well with St. Louis FC, the Fire’s affiliated USL side.
As for Johnson's future role with the club, Paunovic was noncommittal, highlighting the need for competition.
"It's just a process of building competitiveness. All our players and goalkeepers have to understand that it's going to be a fight," Paunovic told reporters. "It's not easy for nobody here. It's a very demanding environment that we are creating here. And we want people to be uncomfortable in the sense of pushing harder and pushing the teammate in front to be the best he can be."