D.C. United’s Eddie Johnson bears no ill will toward Sounders

Staff writerFebruary 28, 2014 

South Korea US Soccer

United States forward Eddie Johnson (18) and South Korea defender Kim Kee-Hee (16) battle for the ball during the second half of an international friendly soccer match in Carson, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. United States won 2-0. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

GUS RUEAS — ASSOCIATED PRESS

— Even while dressed in the black and red of D.C. United, Eddie Johnson said it’s hard to realize that he no longer is a member of Seattle Sounders FC.

Johnson was the Sounders’ goals leader in 2012 and 2013, but was traded during the offseason for allocation money.

“I think it’s something I’m going to have to get used to,” Johnson said Friday. “The reality of the whole thing is I had a really great time my two years in Seattle. To leave from playing in front of 40-plus-something-thousand fans — some amazing fans there — that feeling and that experience doesn’t go away overnight.”

His adjustment will continue Saturday as United faces the Sounders at 2 p.m. in the deciding game of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston. The match

will be streamed live on SoundersFC.com.

“For me, it’s like an intersquad game,” Johnson said. “I used to play against those guys for two years. We know what each other’s like on the field. This will be the first time with me being on the other side of the line. ... It’s a good group of guys, a great team, some good players, good defense, and I’m looking forward to competing and playing against those guys.”

Johnson was full of praise not only for his teammates, but for everyone associated with Seattle and the Sounders organization.

He said his children live in Seattle and that he considers it his offseason home. He said it was great to reconnect with coach Sigi Schmid and others from the organization on the Challenge Cup’s opening day last week. He said trades are part of professional sports, and he doesn’t think either side was a bad guy in this deal.

“There are a lot of pluses that comes from me and the Sounders,” Johnson said. “They got me for not a lot of money. I came there, I put the work in two years. And the other pluses, I guess for me, is I got a chance to get my career back on track, and I got myself onto the national team. So I think on both sides it was a win-win situation the two years I was there.”

The Sounders also have spoken respectfully about the player who scored a club-record 14 goals for them in 2012 before adding nine more last season.

“It will be a challenge (to play against Johnson),” Seattle defender Dylan Remick said. “He’s a great guy, great competitor. I’m excited for it.”

If Johnson scores Saturday, he said he won’t do anything to rub it in.

“I don’t think I’d ever celebrate against the Sounders,” he said. “(Seattle fans) supported me these last two years; the organization gave me the opportunity to get my career back on track. There’s no animosity. ... I just want to go out there and compete. And if for some reason I score a goal, you won’t see a celebration from me.”

The Sounders and United each are 1-0-1 in the round-robin tournament, while D.C. leads by one in goal differential. Saturday’s result will determine the Cup winner.

However, Schmid has made clear that he has other priorities in this final match before the Major League Soccer regular season starts next weekend.

“Anytime you can win a trophy, you want to do it; you don’t want to give it away,” he said. “But on the same token, we know that we want to win the hardware that takes place in the MLS season. And that’s our goal.”

The Houston Dynamo (0-1-1) and Charleston Battery (0-1-1) will meet in the concluding game of the Saturday doubleheader.

ADDED TIME

Sounders FC announced a seasonlong loan of forward Eriq Zavaleta to Chivas USA. Zavaleta played in five games last season after being the 10th overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. League rules will prevent Zavaleta from playing against the Sounders. ... All MLS teams must be in compliance with the league’s roster and salary rules by Saturday. Schmid said the club was working toward that as of midday Friday. ... Sounders reserves will play Coastal Carolina University in a 60-minute training game Saturday morning in Charleston. ... Forward David Geno, who played last season with the Pierce County-based Sounders U-23, signed with the Charlotte Eagles of USL-Pro.

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

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