February 2010

An American Goal: No Greek Myth

Did American Eddie Johnson really score a late goal for Greek side Aris Salonika on Sunday? Did Freddy Adu really notch the assist? Am I comfortable continuing to use horrible Greek-related headlines for every blog post about these two for as long as they’re in Greece!?

Obviously the answer to all these questions is YES!

As the eyes of most American soccer fans continue to be firmly planted on the resurgence of Everton F.C. due in no small part to the contributions of Landon Donovan, Eddie and Freddy may just be authoring a “Yanks Abroad” fairytale of their own.

Johnson and Adu both came on as substitutes late in Sunday’s game against Xanthi and authored an injury time goal together after Xanthi had a player sent off in the 80th minute. Adu found Johnson with a long ball which Eddie quickly picked up and dribbled THROUGH the keeper on his way to scoring. Sadly Aris still lost 2-1 after Adu had a shot go wide of the goal just before the final whistle.

Not exactly a dream start in Greece for the two Americans, but in many ways this small bit of early encouragement is exactly what these two have been missing since making their jumps to Europe years ago. Both guys have a history at this point of inactivity for their respective European sides, especially the young Mr. Adu who often didn’t even make the bench on gamedays with Benfica and Monaco. Johnson was usually fortunate enough to be on the substitute’s bench for Cardiff City, but he managed just two goals in the 30 times he was allowed onto the pitch. This early bit of success in the first Greek appearance for Adu and second for Johnson should earn each player more chances to get in games and show why they’ve infatuated American fans off-and-on over the years, or more importantly to improve their first touch (Eddie) and strength on the ball (Freddy).

Don’t expect the Yanks to be handed starts in their next game because they combined to score a goal, but do be encouraged that in scoring that goal they both went back to what they do best. Adu used his superb touch to set Johnson up with a long pass, and Eddie (never the world’s best ball striker) used his speed to beat the defense and set himself up to receive the pass in a position to go all Kansas City Wizard’s EJ one-on-one with the keeper. What happened next confuses me. In something that he will most probably never do again, Eddie Freakin’ Johnson first touched the long pass through the keepers legs NHL five-hole style (Seriously! Watch the video!). He then retrieved the ball on the other side of the goalie and scored.

We’ll all go back to watching Landon Donovan and Tim Howard climb the Premier League table now, but I hope my new favorite Greek Super League players give me cause to write another post about them soon… and not just because I want to title it Greece Lightning.

Jon Levy