Reports are circulating today that the Seattle Sounders FC are looking at trading away striker Eddie Johnson. It will be very sad to see Johnson leave the club, but this could be the best chance that the Sounders have to pull off this deal while still being successful.
Johnson, 29, joined the Sounders at the beginning of the 2012 season in a controversial trade from Montreal Impact for fan-favorites Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito. The trade was met with lots of criticism for GM Adrian Hanauer as Johnson had underwhelmed during his four seasons in England, making only 19 appearances for Fulham while being set out on loan during every season.
Johnson proved everybody wrong in Seattle though, finishing his first season with 14 goals as well as scoring the game-winner in the MLS All-Star game against Chelsea FC. He was named the Comeback Player of the Year.
This season, Johnson increased his role in Sounders FC history by scoring the game-winning goal in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal over Tigres UANL. That win helped the Sounders become the first MLS side to eliminate a Mexican club in Champions League history.
Johnson had also reestablished himself as a fixture of the United States Men’s National Team for manager Jurgen Klinsmann. He scored twice in his return to the National Team on Oct 12, 2012 in the 2-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda. In 2013, Johnson has made 15 appearances for Klinsmann and is a favorite to earn a spot on the World Cup roster.
This move needs to happen for Seattle because Johnson deserves to get a raise and get near-DP money, but that is something that Seattle cannot afford. With the Sounders needing to re-sign critical midfield pieces Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso, there may not be enough room for EJ.
Johnson is playing at a very high level and should be able to fetch a nice return in any trade that he is involved in. I would anticipate him being traded to an Eastern Conference club; in my opinion, DC United could be the perfect fit with their young squad and lack of an attack.
While losing a player like Eddie Johnson can be detrimental to a club, it would not be for this Seattle club. Lamar Neagle had the best season of his pro career this season, having scored nine goals, and Obafemi Martins will have the entire offseason to heal from his injuries. Seattle also have speedy David Estrada, who can come off the bench and provide that pace lost with Johnson’s departure.