United on Tuesday acquired U.S. national team striker Eddie Johnson from the Seattle Sounders for allocation money. The trade ends a monthslong saga for Johnson, who publicly indicated displeasure with his $150,000 base salary on a Seattle team featuring Obafemi Martins ($1.6 million) and Clint Dempsey ($4.9 million).
"I'm excited with this move to the most storied franchise in MLS, and I look forward to getting started with my new D.C. United teammates," Johnson said in a news release.
United general manager Dave Kasper, who confirmed to Goal USA that the club "is prepared to sit down at the table" with Johnson to negotiate a new contract, said the two teams had been in talks for about a month, though D.C. also attempted to acquire the 6-foot forward when he was contemplating an MLS return.
Regarding Johnson's locker room presence, Kasper said: "I think he's going to be a great fit. He's got a fire in his belly, and he's a winner."
Following an unsuccessful stint with Fulham from 2008 to 2011, Johnson returned to MLS in 2012 and in two seasons with Seattle scored 21 goals in 49 regular season games, plus three goals in six playoff matches. He also has enjoyed a resurgence with the USA during that span, notching seven goals in 19 appearances.
"Eddie was a valuable part of our team the last two seasons," Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said in a news release. "Eddie is a tremendous player who gave us some wonderful moments. This was an opportunity for us to receive allocation money that can strengthen our club in many areas. We wish him the best in D.C."
Johnson joins a United attack that averaged 0.65 goals per game in 2013 and saw three players tie for the club lead with just three goals apiece. This marks the fifth straight offseason in which United has made a high-profile striker acquisition, following Danny Allsopp in 2010, Charlie Davies in 2011, Hamdi Salihi in 2012 and Rafael in 2013. Each of those players departed after a single season.
United coach Ben Olsen is familiar with Johnson after the two were teammates on the USA's squads at the 2006 World Cup and 2007 Copa America. Olsen also selected Johnson as a coach's pick for the 2012 All-Star Game, in which the striker scored the game-winning goal for the MLS side over Chelsea.
"It always helps, that chemistry, that relationship," Kasper said. "It's definitely a plus. It's not a dealbreaker, but the starting point will be much better because they know each other."
Johnson, 29, is the fourth American veteran United has added this offseason following the acquisitions of center back Bobby Boswell (30), right back Sean Franklin (28) and midfielder Davy Arnaud (33).
While United under Olsen has seen its wingers favor cutting inside and attacking players on the dribble, rather than pump balls into the box toward a target forward, Kasper has confidence Johnson can get the job done no matter the team's philosophy.
"With the returning players, and new acquisitions when we're done, preseason will be a time to figure out a final style of play," Kasper said. "But look, Eddie can make plays by himself, he can get in behind with his pace, he's good in the air, he's good in the box finishing service. So he can score goals in a number of ways."