Sounders take on D.C. United, face old friend

  • By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
  • Friday, June 27, 2014 6:53pm
  • SportsSports

TUKWILA — When the Seattle Sounders return to Major League Soccer play today, a former teammate will be waiting: Eddie Johnson.

After scoring 21 goals for Seattle over the previous two seasons, Johnson was traded to D.C. United over the offseason. He has provided one goal and one assist wearing the red and black. But despite those relatively low numbers, United is atop the Eastern Conference standings, seven points behind Seattle in the Supporters Shield race.

“They’re a team that’s played very well,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “(Forward Fabian) Espindola is out for them and Davy Arnaud is out on yellow cards, but still Eddie Johnson will be back. I’m sure he’s looking forward to the game. He’ll want to play at his best. And they’re a good team. They’ve improved themselves defensively.”

Johnson was not available for interviews in advance of this match.

However, in April when United and the Sounders both played in the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup, he spoke warmly of the Sounders and their fans and said he wished this regular-season match would have been scheduled in Seattle.

“My kids are still there; they live there,” he said. “Seattle now for me is my offseason where I spend my time right now. You know my kids are my first priority, and everything after that is second. Like I said, some amazing fans there in Seattle … so to play in front of them one more time would mean the world to me.”

Contacted this week, a D.C. United communications representative said “Eddie isn’t available for a variety of reasons.”

However, the Sounders once again spoke kindly of him, as they did when he was traded away and again when the teams met in South Carolina.

“Eddie’s still a friend of ours and a friend of the club’s,” Schmid said. “And we wish him nothing but the best — except against us.”

Still, the relationship between Johnson and the Sounders had its bumps. During a goal celebration last season, he rubbed his fingers together and mouthed the words “pay me.” As the Sounders stumbled toward the end of their season, he was banished from a practice for disciplinary reasons.

In the end, he was traded away for allocation money. And when the Sounders reported to training camp this year, their praise of the “improved locker room” was generally seen as reflecting Johnson’s absence.

But on the pitch Johnson has been a proven goal-scorer throughout his career in MLS and with the United States national team. And the Sounders are taking the attitude that his return to form is just a matter of time.

“You adjust to a new team,” Schmid said. “He’s got a different front-running partner in Espindola, a guy who likes to go to the flanks and find different areas. And Eddie is another guy who likes to sometimes float wide and look for space, so sometimes there’s nobody in the middle, and that’s something they probably have addressed and are looking at. Eddie’s been unlucky. … With a goal-scorer, the difference between having six or seven goals and having one or two is sometimes just the rub of the green.”

During this week, the Sounders prepared under the assumption Johnson would especially like for his goal-scoring touch to return against his former team.

“Eddie’s a quality player,” veteran defender Zach Scott said. “You add in that little motivation playing against a team that you just came from, and I think it’s a game that he’ll certainly rise to the occasion to, and one that we’ll have to be very good defensively making sure that we’ve got somebody right on him. “

Added time

The Sounders have announced that their July 9 U.S. Open Cup match against Portland at Starfire Sports Stadium is sold out. … The Sounders also have announced a viewing party for the U.S. national team’s World Cup match against Belgium. The free event will be held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. Doors will open two hours before the 1 p.m. kickoff.

More in Sports

Seahawks ditch ‘every game is the same’ mantra for Rams showdown

Seattle hosts first-place Los Angeles in what is essentially the NFC West championship game on Sunday.

Friday’s prep basketball scores, recaps

Girls teams get defensive in decisive victories.

Glacier Peak’s Makayla Guerra attempts a shot past Jackson’s Sydney Carter Friday night at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish on December 15, 2017. Glacier Peak won 63-46. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
New-look Glacier Peak girls basketball beats Jackson 63-46

The Grizzlies are starting to find their footing after losing three stars to graduation from last season.

Seahawks, Rams play with ‘special’ edge

Both teams have traditionally featured some of the best special-teams play in the NFL.

McGrath: A look at the ‘best’ of bowl season

The college football bowl season kicks off Saturday with six games.

Several Seahawks fined by NFL: Ifedi is docked $24,000

Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Jefferson were both fined $9,115 for unnecessary roughness penalties.

Chiefs stop Silvertips’ winning streak at 9

Spokane’s Hudson Elynuik scores twice in the third period as Everett falls 5-3.

Reaction to the possibility of the NHL coming to Seattle

Readers chime in with their thoughts about an NHL team potentially coming to the region.

Friday’s stars of the night

Taliyah Clark, G, Mariner Clark, a freshman, scored a game-high 34 points… Continue reading

Most Read