Eddie Johnson, I’m Sorry

I owe Eddie Johnson an apology, as I’m sure many a soccer fan in the United States do too. Johnson is a better soccer player than I thought. Moreover, he’s a pro who knows how to score big goals.

But this comes before his two goals versus Antigua in the World Cup qualifier the U.S. had to win. This comes when he signed with the Seattle Sounders. I should say Sigi Schmid wisely signed Eddie Johnson to the Seattle Sounders against probably everyone and their mothers better judgment, so I owe Sigi an apology as well.

What I need to apologize for is I just thought that was a terrible signing by the Sounders. I didn’t think Johnson had the touch or the overall soccer skill to play for the Sounders. I thought his pro soccer career was on a downward trend. I thought he wasn’t going to even last in the MLS after trying to play for countless teams in Europe and not sticking anywhere.

But the fact that he went to Europe and played is more than a lot of players have done. It’s not the easy route it’s the more challenging route and he took it. He played pro soccer in Europe. There’s a small number of U.S. players who have even done that.

What I was wrong about though was that Johnson had learned how to play within himself. That is to say he learned how to keep it simple when he had to. He had learned how to lay the soccer ball off and get back into the box where he could score goals. He had learned how to use his speed better. He just got wiser in general.

Also, I was wrong about Johnson because he’s a forward. And all forwards need to do is score goals. He didn’t have to create goal-scoring chances. He didn’t even have to have brilliant touch or skill on the soccer ball. He just had to get on the end of crosses and passes and score goals with his head, thigh, foot, shin, shoulder, or even knee.

What’s crazy is in the end though is Eddie Johnson might not even make the final United States World Cup team roster if the team can tie or beat Guatemala and then advance in the hexagonal phase of qualifying. That’s just what happens. The team can change quite a bit when the tournament doesn’t start until the summer of 2014 in Brazil.

New: Eddie Johnson Training Christian Pulisic

However, for now, Eddie Johnson is pretty much a hero for fans of the United States national team. Johnson gives a lot of credit to his goal scoring form to his mental and visualization training.

My biggest thing — and a sports psychologist told me, ‘Eddie, you’re your own enemy’ — is sometimes I think I put too much pressure on myself, and it shows in my game. I learned how to relax more and control what I can control and not let others’ emotions affect or dictate my play in the game. Yeah, I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve been doing some yoga, and visualization allows me to focus during a big game when there are a lot of emotions going on. I’m always looking for ways to add to my game to make me a better player and a more consistent player. I’ve done a lot of growing up and it shows.” (SeattleTimes)

Here’s Eddie Johnson’s goal in the dying minutes of the game versus Antigua:

So, hats off to Eddie Johnson on his ability to score goals and win games for both the Sounders and the United States national team.

Old school video: Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey head for BBQ in Cary, N.C., sharing the finer points of their favorite delicacy.