December 2013, Featured

Being an Eddie Johnson Fan: One Writer’s Journey

From disappointing young talent to critical US contributor- a writer goes full circle.

From disappointing young talent to critical US contributor- a writer goes full circle.

Jon Levy

Hello, my name is Jon Levy and I’m an Eddie Johnson fan. It’s weird to see that I’ve typed those words, but they’re true.

I’m a Washington DC resident and a DC United fan, and when the black-and-red sealed a trade of allocation cash for the USMNT forward, well, I fist pumped like Tiger Woods on the eighteenth hole of a tournament nobody cares about. Like many of you in the US Soccer community, I’ve come full circle on EJ, so I figured I’d quickly chronicle my feelings on Eddie through the years. Buckle up!

2006 – Eddie scores a bunch of goals in World Cup Qualifying, then can’t hack it in the World Cup

JON’S TAKE: Y’know, I was really excited about this young goal scorer from my home state of Florida doin’ it real big with the US Men’s National Team, then he was completely ineffective against world class opposition. He also seems to have the worst first touch ever for a striker. The ball caroms ten to twenty yards off his foot every time he receives a pass. What the hell?

2007 – Eddie gets his scoring touch back in the 2007 MLS season with the KC Wizards

JON’S TAKE: He’s proven he can score against crap opposition before, and he continues to prove it. First touch still sucks. No greater hope for his future than I had immediately post-2006 World Cup. Scoring against the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution is no more impressive than scoring against pre Dely-Valdes Panama or Trinidad and Tobago.

2008-2009 – Eddie transfers to Fulham in the EPL; he struggles there and on loan with Cardiff City

JON’S TAKE: At first I thought Fulham had seen something that I hadn’t, but upon further review I think they were just enticed by his USMNT/MLS goal output and his raw speed. Turns out the tight, physical defending of the top two English leagues is not the right recipe for “first touch” EJ to have success. I think he’s about done. And I’ve taken to calling him Eddie “First Touch” Johnson whenever someone mentions him as a potential firecracker sub for the national team…

Two US players scored in Greece. Naturally, I thought Adu was the one whose goals meant something....

Two US players scored in Greece. Naturally, I thought Adu was the one whose goals meant something….

2010 – Eddie and Freddy Adu are both loaned from their home clubs to Aris Thessaloniki in Greece; both excel and help propel the team into the next season’s Europa League

JON’S TAKE: This is just the rebirth that super talented former wunderkind Freddy Adu needed. Yes, Eddie Johnson defied the odds and scored some nice goals for the first time in years, but the chances of Adu finding his work ethic and harnessing his amazing skills are so much greater than those of EJ fixing his first touch and consistently playing useful soccer. I’ll be watching Adu closely on his next stop. I plan on continuing to know that Johnson exists, but that’s about it.

2011 – Eddie is loaned from Fulham to yet another English club; he struggles badly with Preston North End

JON’S TAKE: That’s about what I thought. And holy cow, that first touch is worse than I remembered.

2012 – Eddie comes back to a much improved MLS, scores a bunch for the Seattle Sounders, and even earns a look from Klinsmann that he converts into a clutch two-goal performance to beat Antigua and Barbuda in an important CONCACAF away match

JON’S TAKE: I did not see that coming. The MLS has improved so greatly since 2007 that I figured Eddie would have trouble fighting his way up the depth chart at Seattle, let alone start scoring goals consistently against defensive units that are significantly better than the ones he faced in 2007. Hell, most these MLS defenses are much better than the ones he was scoring against in Greece too, and they’re probably every bit as good as the Championship defenses he wasn’t scoring against. Still, even in spite of the progress, I hope the Antigua performance doesn’t fool Jurgen Klinsmann into making Eddie into anything more than a fringe player on this improving national team.

2013 – Eddie keeps scoring with Seattle, and solidifies himself as an important squad player on the US Men’s National Team, scoring critical World Cup qualifying goals and taking pressure off the only guy who could score for the USMNT for a while, Clint Dempsey

JON’S TAKE: I really, really, really did not see that coming. Yeah, I know he’s been scoring at will for the Sounders, but this guy’s game has done a complete about face. His first touch, which had been comically bad for so long, is now (almost) a strength of his game. That goal at CenturyLink against Panama in a crucial qualifier? WHAT!? He pulled down a long ball in-stride with a velvet touch before beating the keeper! Who kidnapped Eddie Johnson and put this identical ringer on the team? His first touch is so good that a German manager who was an incredibly skilled player now feels comfortable playing EJ out of position on a wing from time to time. What a resurgence. I was wrong, and I’m happy about. Keep scoring Eddie. And he does. Against Mexico. Be still my heart.

December 17th, 2013 – Eddie’s rights are traded from Seattle to DC United for allocation money

JON’S TAKE:  (fist pump!) 

Jon Levy is Co-Founder and Co-Editor of The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at and you should follow him on Twitter at @TYAC_Jon.

Jon Levy