Johnson on for Dempsey

West Ham 1 Fulham 0

Dempsey was everywhere it seemed, winning a head ball in the back, shielding the ball away from defenders, hitting a nice diagonal chip to a player running down the line, but with about fifteen minutes left he came off. I wonder how he felt looking up and seeing his ‘boy’ on the sidelines waiting to replace him. I’m sure he wasn’t too happy. This is a game, a business, a passion after all, and a London derby to top it off. Sure, as Eddie is his friend there was some happiness and he did look tired, but I know I never liked coming off unless I was hurt.

Johnson played up on the wing when he came on, and not an out and out forward.

It’s was a tight match, both sides making rushes, but no clear changes for either side until the later stages. Solano, the best Peruvian soccer player there’s been for some time, scored the winner. He’s a class player all around and just knows how to play the game. Time and time again he had his hands out to the side, demanding the ball. He scored the game winner after going in fearlessly with the keeper, sliding at an angle, his foot hitting the keeper in the face and the ball bouncing off his elbow and into the goal. A sad goal for Fulham, who moments earlier had some good chances to score themselves, looks like they’re headed for the drop.

Eddie Johnson must have touched the ball about eight times in total. The keeper threw the ball to him as he broke down the sidelines, he took a few touches at pace down the line before cutting the ball back to the middle and laying it off cleanly. He showed some hustle one time using his body to fight off a defender and win the ball back. For the most part his contribution entailed laying the ball back with the inside of his foot.

His chance did come though, and so many players score on their debut, but he missed timed this one. A long cross came in from the left side, over the head of McBride, and fell to Johnson who cleared the ball over the goal as he leaned back and struck it with the inside of his foot. He was alone and should have done better, but a tough chance, the kind of chance that would lift the whole stadium if a player scores it. The wonder volley so to speak. The kind of chance you have to go far and can’t wait on. For a first game in the EPL though, he’s got to be happy, a lot to build off of.

But I thought of Eto’o when I saw Johnson out there, and how he rushes at defenders when they’re trying to build out of the back. How Eto’o brings this enthusiasm and hope to the game. Johnson was playing a bit conservatively. I’d like to see him go for it like Eto’o–try to lift and inspire your team with hustle and passion.

I’d have to say McBride was the class of the team, putting players through a couple times and holding the ball up so they could build an attack. Overall, I thought Fulham looked much better than they have in the past. They play together now and deserved to win really, but didn’t take their chances when they had them.

Both Dempsey and Johnson were wearing the new orange Nike shoes.  The Nike Mercurial Vapor IV, they’re only $200 for average joes.  How much do they get paid for this Nike deal? The shoes look good, fleet of foot they seem, but you’re play has to stand out as much as your shoes. For Demspey I think that’s the case, but for Johnson not just yet.

So few Americans play over seas, and they thus get a ton of attention, albeit from a small soccer community. A blog like this for instance, dissecting a brief entrance into an EPL match by Eddie Johnson, but the glory is all for them to take.

In extra time another American came on, Jonathon Spector, too late to get any touches and a change just to kill time. The announcer calling this an MLS fixture.