With the likes of Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and other key players missing from the game against Mexico, manager Jurgen Klinsmann had to rely on a proven World Cup qualifier commodity. At age 29, Eddie Johnson has become that guy with an astonishing 12 goals in 21 career World Cup qualifiers.
Johnson brought pace, determination and an undeniable work rate to the game, teaming up with Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey in the attacking third of the pitch. The way Johnson has played throughout the qualifiers and for the Seattle Sounders of the MLS, it is going to be hard for anyone to keep him out of Klinsmann’s first-team plans.
When everyone is fit and no longer suspended, the U.S. team is more than formidable in the attacking third of the pitch. As well as Graham Zusi has played, he has not scored the kind of goals or had the kind of impact that Johnson has had on the National Team.
I truly believe that having Donovan play wide left, Altidore as a lone striker, Dempsey in the no. 10 role and Johnson wide right is the best attacking combination that the U.S. National Team can field.
Personally, I wish that Johnson would test his abilities abroad in one of the top leagues in Europe. It would certainly make him a better player as he would be going against top defenders week in and week out. Either way, Johnson is a supremely gifted player who possesses pace, athleticism and a knack for scoring timely goals.
Johnson has been clutch during the World Cup qualification period, but it remains to be seen if he can continue this level of production during the World Cup next summer in Brazil.