Skip to content

Eddie Johnson to D.C. is happening: What this means for Seattle, United

Dec 17, 2013, 4:40 PM EDT

eddie_johnson AP

If you’ve been following the Washington Post’s reporting on the deal (probably through Steven Goff’s Twitter feed), you know a Eddie Johnson-to-D.C. United deal has been done since last night. Throughout the day, approval from Major League Soccer headquarters was all that sustained Johnson’s tenuous links to Seattle, but by mid-afternoon New York time, the deal was done. The 29-year-old U.S. international was swapping rave green for red and black, with a yacht-load of allocation money set to arrive on Puget Sound.

How much allocation exactly? Who knows. As Goff perfectly puts it, “given MLS’s secrecy on such matters, (the amount) will probably never be revealed publicly.” If speculation about maximum allocation scenarios is true, the Sounders could get well north of half-a-million in funny money.

For a Seattle team revamping a roster after their 2013 collapse, that amount would be huge. Well, it’d be huge for any club, but for a team in the Sounders’ position, it would be especially useful. With Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle has no more Designated Player (DP) spots, a mild inconvenience for a team that can go out and get Dempsey and Martins-level players. If they receive a big chunk of MLS’s play money, the Sounders can buy that last railroad, put hotels on those neglected green properties, and potentially pay down Alonso’s salary cap hit, freeing up a DP spot.

The Sounders have already added Stefan Frei in goal. Not a bad replacement for Michael Gspurning. They’ve taken on Chad Marshall in the middle of defense, and Kenny Cooper’s been tacked on up top. Very good and perhaps very good. They still have (a seemingly major) hole at left midfield, and Clint Dempsey still needs to show he can be the type of creative presence that Seattle’s counting on, but Adrian Hanauer’s putting in the time on Seattle’s phone lines. He’s already addressed two of his team’s problem areas.

Whether trading Johnson creates a third is open to debate. The U.S. international was the team’s best attacker last year, but in the wake of Seattle’s conference semifinal elimination at the boots of rival Portland, Johnson’s been thrown to the curb, awaiting a bus that will either take him out of town or try to run him over (depending on how you want to extend the metaphor). Regardless, the relationship between the Sounders and one of their best players was beyond repair, with Johnson becoming a convenient target for people searching for explanations.

The Sounders have admitted the locker room was bad at the end of last season, and Johnson was publicly campaigning for a new deal. (Remember the “pay me” goal celebration?) Owner Joe Roth cited players’ attitudes and lack of effort at the club’s annual business meeting, remarks that were seen as another instance of calling out Johnson (among others). After it became clear Johnson would not return, the magic Seattle conjured in 2012 with “E.J.” dwindled into a form of scapegoating.

Johnson is not an innocent party here. He played into it all, but as he appears set to move across the country, the question is whether Ben Olsen and United can avoid some of the pitfalls that befell Sigi Schmid and Seattle. Making him a Designated Player, as The Post’s reporting suggests they will, is a great start, as it gives Johnson the appreciation he feels he deserves. Given the state of United’s squad, D.C. are also likely to play directly to its new forward’s strengths, something that became an issue between Schmid and Johnson by season’s end. Averaging a goal every 167 minutes since returning to Major League Soccer, a committed Johnson is somebody D.C. can build around.

source: AP

With three wins in 2013, D.C. United set a Major League Soccer mark for futility despite winning the U.S. Open Cup. Now, they’re ready to make Eddie Johnson a Designated Player with the hope their attacking problems will be solved. (Photo: AP)

Of course, everybody will be wondering about personalities. Rightly or wrongly, Johnson’s acquired a certain reputation throughout his Major League Soccer career, flames of which will only be fanned by how he’s leaving Seattle. Olsen, a former U.S. international himself, is not known as somebody with a high tolerance for player entitlement. On the surface, this seems like a potentially combustable relationship.

While that’s certainly the case, implying Olsen can’t handle egos seems to short-change him as a coach. Perhaps, at 36 years old, Olsen still lacks the type of man management experience Schmid brought to bear on Johnson, but he won’t be completely ignorant of the need to employ different approaches with different players. That doesn’t mean one set of rules for E.J., another for the rest of the team (something Olden would probably frown on), but if it means having to go the extra mile to make sure you’re always on the same page as a key player, Olsen’s certainly capable of doing it.

At the end of Johnson’s time in Seattle, the Sounders were no longer willing to do that. They wanted to move on and are getting a huge chunk of allocation to do so. But that doesn’t mean Johnson can’t be productive for another team. The set of challenges you inherit with him are unique, but as the Sounders showed just 12 months ago, those challenges can be overcome.

Latest Posts
  1. Los Angeles officially given new MLS team; Magic Johnson, Vincent Tan among investors

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    @MLS @MLS

    In what will be called “Los Angeles Football Club” as it goes through its branding, MLS has announced that L.A. has officially been awarded another team.

  2. PST Extra: Getting you ready for The Manchester Derby (video)

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Mike Prindiville and Joe Prince-Wright join Jenna Corrado to discuss the Manchester Derby between Manchester United and Manchester City.

  3. Alan Pardew: The Premier League’s antihero

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT

    Pardew Getty Images

    Like Steve McQueen in “Papillon,” only nattily-attired, the Newcastle United manager just seems to be constantly yelling out, “Hey… I’m still here.”

  4. Another Premier League club linked with US investor, ex-MLB owner

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

    Swansea

    He’s being linked with Swansea City, though club chairman Huw Jenkins said while the club is entertaining investors, any specific names would be “pure speculation.”

  5. European clubs propose later domestic Cup finals, April-May World Cup in 2022

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Qatar 2022

    The proposed moves would leave only 10 days prep time before the World Cup began, and would also alter the UEFA Champions League schedule.

  6. Zombie Luis Suarez terrifies London (Yes, this video is a Halloween prank)

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.52.50 AM

    What do you think? Mean-spirited to the public or just a decent Candid Camera-style prank?

  7. Emotional Whitecaps react to controversial PK ouster: “It was such a soft call.”

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

    Matias Laba, Kendall Waston,  Michel AP

    “I’ve got 30 and 34-year-olds in my locker room in tears because we feel it’s been unfairly taken away from us,” said coach Carl Robinson.

  8. Rumors know no window: Liverpool after Reus, Manchester United wants Draxler

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT

    FC St. Pauli v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup Getty Images

    And it’s claimed that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will sign a veteran back from Juventus, bucking his trends of signing attackers and youth.

  9. Indonesian clubs concede five own goals in four minutes, may have feared mafia (video)

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT

    BBC BBC

    PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang have been disqualified from their country’s playoffs after conceding five own goals in their their match.

  10. VIDEO: Hugely-controversial call sees FC Dallas past Vancouver in playoffs. Your vote?

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:44 AM EDT

    Darren Mattocks, Kendall Waston, Ethen Sampson, Mark Geiger AP

    Michel converted the penalty past David Ousted, and FC Dallas hung on for the win in an otherwise fast-paced, fun game in Texas.

  11. Report: Carlos Vela to accept call-up to Mexican National Team

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

    Real Sociedad de Futbol v Getafe CF - La Liga Getty Images

    Carlos Vela is set to return to the Mexican National Team making them a much more dangerous side.

  12. Trailer released for ‘Die Mannschaft’, story of Germany’s 2014 World Cup win

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final AP

    Nothing like a behind-the-scenes World Cup doc to pique the interest.

  13. Vincent Tan ready to invest in Major League Soccer

    Oct 29, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Vincent Tan. Coming to a MLS club near you!

  14. Timbers’ Steve Zakuani announces retirement from professional soccer

    Oct 29, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT

    Steve Zakuani AP

    Steve Zakuani. A supremely talented player, forced to call it quits way too early.

  15. Fan slaps Franck Ribery with a scarf, David Alaba hits a belter in Bayern’s win over Hamburg

    Oct 29, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Hamburger SV v FC Bayern Muenchen - DFB Cup Getty Images

    Franck Ribery is short but probably not the kind of guy you want to mess with.

  16. League Cup Roundup: Balotelli saves Liverpool, Newcastle defeat Manchester City

    Oct 29, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Swansea City - Capital One Cup Fourth Round

    A late equalizer from Mario Balotelli helps spur the rally that sees Liverpool into the League Cup quarter-finals.

  17. Rio Ferdinand suspended three matches, fined $40,000, for abusive tweet

    Oct 29, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    Beware, Premier League footballers. The FA is all over Twitter.

  18. Report: Spanish legend Raul signs with the New York Cosmos

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    FC Schalke 04 - Press Conference Getty Images

    Raul signs with the Cosmos, will head up the youth program upon retirement.

Featured video

PST Extra: The Manchester derby