CARSON, Calif. – A focal part of the offense of Seattle Sounders FC has been the play of forward Eddie Johnson and his success has not gone unnoticed by his former U.S. National Team coach Bruce Arena.
It was Arena who gave Johnson his start with the U.S. in 2004 and subsequently selected him as part of the USMNT’s squad for the 2006 World Cup. Johnson made two appearances on a squad that failed to advance past the group stage, but was considered by some to be one of the few bright spots of that underachieving group.
Johnson quickly developed into a rising star in MLS and with the USMNT, ultimately leaving for EPL side Fulham. It was in old continent that trouble struck as Johnson could never hold down a spot with the Cottagers before bouncing around Europe with spells at Championship side Cardiff City, Greek club Aris, and lastly Championship club Preston North End.
This season, Johnson has reinvented himself with the Sounders by scoring 14 goals and three assists for Seattle while also earning a place back on Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. team. When the Western Conference Championship kicks off on Sunday, stopping Johnson—and his forward partner Fredy Montero-will be key for LA to advance to their third MLS Cup in four tries.
On Saturday, the Galaxy boss told reporters that he was pleased with the way that Johnson has turned his career around over the last year.
“He’s had a really good year. He’s discovered his niche as a forward and that niche is to get at the end of service in the box. They make it pretty simple for him and he’s done his job and done it well,” said Arena. “I think he’s had a rough going over the last five years. It’s nice to see that he’s taken advantage of this opportunity.”