Sounders' Eddie Johnson says injury, poor play pushed him to breaking point

Staff writerOctober 26, 2013 

Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson (7) keeps the ball from Colorado Rapids defender Drew Moor (3) in the second half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Oct. 5. The Rapids won 5-1.

ISAIAH DOWNING — Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

— Eddie Johnson trained with Seattle Sounders FC on Friday, two days after coach Sigi Schmid told the team’s top goal-scorer to stay away.

Johnson and Schmid weren’t specific about what happened, but both sounded eager to turn attention to the regular-season finale Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy and the MLS Cup playoffs.

“It was a one-day thing,” Schmid said. “We talked, and we moved forward. It’s like families: Sometimes you disagree, and you move on. ... We’re OK. Not a problem.”

Johnson was asked what he would like Sounders fans to know about the incident.

“Obviously, I’ve been frustrated,” he said. “I’ve been injured — got injured with the (U.S.) national team — and I know

how important it is for our team right now. The last four games, even before I went to the national team, our run of play hasn’t been good as (of) late. We haven’t been getting the results that we’ve wanted. Me being a guy that’s an important part of this team, being injured, I’ve been really frustrated. ... It’s more me frustrated with myself, knowing how important I am within the team and how much I want to be out there to help my teammates and put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”

The Sounders (15-12-6, 51 points) are fourth in the Western Conference. They have lost four consecutive games and are on a six-game winless streak.

On Tuesday, Johnson left training ahead of his teammates, complaining about passing from the midfielders.

He was asked Friday about adjusting to differences in the quality of his national and Sounders teammates.

“Leaving and going to the national team with better players, I think it’s to us to come back and make our teammates better,” he said. “So I’m one of those guys who is more of a vocal leader in how I play. When I’m on, it’s contagious. When Clint Dempsey is on his game, it’s contagious within the team. When Brad Evans is on his game, it’s contagious in the team. With Mauro (Rosales and other) veteran guys that the younger guys look up to, when we’re on our game, it’s contagious in the team. I try to hold my standards high and as well as my teammates’ standard high.”

Still, Schmid stopped short of committing to Johnson’s availability for Sunday — as a matter of health, not discipline. Johnson suffered a sports hernia with the national team and was held out of the Sounders’ losses last week at Portland and Dallas.

“He was able to do the whole practice (Friday), all the training,” Schmid said. “He felt good. So we’ll see how he feels (Saturday), and then we’ll make a decision.”

Johnson confirmed that he felt good in training and said he is eager to play Sunday.

He indicated no hard feelings toward club management or teammates.

“They’re confident in me 100 percent, as well as I am with them,” he said. “That’s what it’s about at the end of the day: us. Even when we’ve had a difficult time throughout this year, being true to ourselves and what we believe in, that’s what got us into the playoffs. They can say results went our way, but it’s about making the playoffs. It’s not about winning every game. With the talent we’ve got within this team, we’re in the playoffs, and we still have everything in our control.”

ADDED TIME

Forward Lamar Neagle on Friday was named Sounders FC humanitarian of the year. Neagle, 26, was born in Tacoma and raised in Federal Way, where he played for Thomas Jefferson High School. He made more than 25 appearances in the community this season and started a charitable program, the Neagle Foundation. ... Schmid said Dempsey (shoulder), forward Obafemi Martins (groin) and defender Djimi Traore (knee) trained well Friday and could be available Sunday. Schmid sounded more doubtful about defender Leo Gonzalez (hip).

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808
don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
@donruiztnt

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