When asked about that today, Johnson said he hadn't heard that from Klinsmann, and then veered the conversation in an way that sometimes compared his national-team experiences with his club-team experiences. “Well, he didn’t say that to me yet, so when he says that to me… I don’t read the paper or anything, so my last conversation with him I wasn’t told that," Johnson said. "What I do want to take back from the national team is what it feels like to be in a locker room full of guys that are willing to battle and fight for each other, everyone putting their egos aside and everyone on board with what we’re trying to accomplish in this organization. I think for me it was good to get away because it was a bit frustrating for me in previous games. So to get in the locker room and get that fight and that hunger and that desire and that commitment back and that winning mentality, I want to bring that back from the national team here in Seattle.”
On if it feels that way in Sounders locker room: “We know how it is here. There are a lot of expectations here. There’s a lot of pressure. You lose one game and sometimes it’s like the end of the world here. We haven’t had the most consistent season, but we’re not doing bad as a team. I think we’re still in good form, good shape. And you know how it is: When you aren’t winning, no one’s happy; but when you’re winning, everyone is happy. So it’s good to see the guys get two good results when I was gone, because before that guys heads were pretty down. Whatever my role is, just like it was with the national team came into the team, if it’s coming off the bench, if it’s starting, I’m looking forward to whatever I have to do here.”
On translating that form to club team: “I think just around the national team you’re around the best players in your country. It’s different here. You’re playing with better players — that’s the reality of it. We all know that. You guys know that. You get the balls at certain times when you make those runs, and you get that right service. Those are the best players in our country. So it’s me being more patient when I’m here, because I’m not going to say every ball I get on the field is perfect. So it’s me being patient and believing in the players that are around me. Eventually, at the end of the day, it’s me being confident in myself in front of goal. I’m not worried. The goals will come. It’s just a matter of time.”
Later, we asked Sounders coach Sigi Schmid if this comparison of national team over club team -- though true -- might not translate well into the Sounders locker room.
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Schmid said he didn't think it would be a problem
"It’s a national team," he said. "Guys are getting picked because they’re considered stronger. You can’t say there and say, OK, I think Lamar Neagle has done great for us, but is he as good as Landon Donovan at this stage? Probably not. So obviously that’s why it’s the national team: You’re getting to pick the best from the best. The other things that happens is, when you go into the national team – and having been with the national team as a coach – the players know there’s only one national team, so if I don’t do well here I don’t go to another national team and play. This is the only chance. So players’ efforts seem to sometimes rise above on a consistent basis what they give maybe every day on the club level – and that’s with every club player on every team in the league and any team across the world. … If I’m not playing well for my club, maybe I get sold to another team … maybe I get traded, and I get another chance at it.But with the national team I get one chance, and as long as that guy’s the coach, if I don’t take advantage of my chance I might not get called in again. It’s just a natural thing. So I think when you have the national team together, the level of play, the intensity is always a little bit stronger, because guys know this is it. And there’s also, with our national team there’s a lot of bonus money at stake, so guys are going to pull out all the stops to get that cash.
SCHMID on Johnson wanting better service: I think our service in the last games what much better from the flanks. I think Mauro’s crosses were better, I thought Burch hit some good crosses, I though Leo had some good crosses. Quality service is certainly part of it. But at the end of the day, you just got to keep working. Nobody’s out there trying to cross the ball, and saying, ‘Well, I’m going to hit a bad cross right now.’ Everybody’s trying to hit a good cross, and we’ve got to keep making our runs and doing our things, and Eddie’s been doing that. Some guys – Oba pumps his fist and punches the air, different guys reach differently – but it’s all a matter of everybody wants to do well, everybody wants to succeed, and everybody wants to see the team win.
SCHMID on if Johnson is making the right runs: Yeah, pretty much so. I think the amount that he sprints within the game is always among the highest levels within our team. It’s just a matter of him being able to continue to put pressure on the opponent’s defense. Sometimes it’s a little harder when they pack it in in the back. Eddie, I don’t want to see him get bogged down in midfield so much; I’d rather see him stay higher.
SCHMID on Johnson's hold-up play vs. Panama: I think his hold up play has been good here. His ability to retain possession for our team is much higher than, say, Lamar Neagle’s is. There’s obviously a significant difference there. So he’s got to get that hold up play, but hold-up play, it’s holding it, knocking it back, getting it back in the box. Those are things that, again, as the guys play more with each other they’ll understand when and how to get that done more efficiently.