Sam Johnson aims to make amends for comments with words, game-winning goal

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Real Salt Lake forward Sam Johnson found himself in a bit of hot water following last week’s comments demanding the ball from teammates following a 2-1 loss to Portland.

But following a 3-2 win against Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado Rapids on Saturday, in which he scored a 53rd-minute game winner which rescued the result, Johnson is showing contrition with both his words and his work on the pitch.

“When I said that, I think it was a little bit unprofessional,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com after the win. “It was unprofessional from me and I told my teammates ‘I’m sorry.’ I was just hungry and frustrated after the loss. They’re doing their best; I’m doing my best and I think with time will come understanding. It will take time.”

Having played for nine different teams around the world prior to his stop in Utah, the Liberian Designated Player knows that the biggest challenge when transitioning to a new team is earning trust.

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“It’s difficult leaving a team where you’ve already earned respect from the team, the coach and the fans,” Johnson continued. “Every team is a new start. Nobody knows you, it’s difficult. But this is my career and you have to take chances.”

He knows to earn that trust, he’ll have to not just generate offensive chances, but finish them, just like he did on Saturday night in Colorado. Now, he's got four goals in 10 appearances in MLS, but he's scored those four goals in the last five games, showing a vein of form.

“Any striker wants to score goals,” said Johnson. “I tell myself that every time I have a chance, I have to make use of it. If you have one or two chances and miss, your team is not coming back to you, so every chance I get, I want to make.”

It did well to impress RSL head coach Mike Petke, too.

“It was a phenomenal third goal,” Petke said of Johnson’s finish. “Overall it was a phenomenal three points and a phenomenal result.”

As for the fans? Johnson knows wins, especially rivalry wins, will do well to gain their trust as well.

“It was a really good win for us,” he said. “It’s important to make the fans happy because they took a flight or a car out here and they now know they didn’t come out here for nothing.”


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