WASHINGTON — It’s been a season full of accomplishments for D.C. United but individually, Eddie Johnson has had a rough go of it.
Brought over from Seattle in the offseason, Johnson was expected to fill the attacking void for a team that desperately needed offensive help. In 2013, Johnson scored nine goals. D.C. United’s co-leading scorers had three.
Despite netting 23 times in his previous two MLS seasons, Johnson failed to score at all for the first two months of the season. By the time he found the net for the first time on May 17, he had already been left off Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man preliminary World Cup roster.
Despite his slow start with United, it was still a stunner for a player that was a big part of the USA's qualifying efforts. Two months later though, Johnson seems to be finally showing the form that caused United to make him a designated player back in March.
The 30-year-old attacker was a key contributor in his team’s 3-1 win over Chivas USA on Sunday night, scoring from the spot, assisting Perry Kitchen’s goal with a knockback header, holding play up well, and buzzing around the field defensively.
"I thought he worked as hard as he's ever worked on the defensive end for us," head coach Ben Olsen said after the game.
With his club a point out of first place and after penalty kick goals in back-to-back games, Johnson appears ready to put his World Cup omission squarely in his rear-view mirror.
“I feel like the team and I are just getting familiar with our understanding on the field,” Johnson told reporters after the game. “It’s been frustrating trying to create those understandings on the field and we all have individual goals. Clearly one of mine was to go to the World Cup.
“Once the whole World Cup thing was behind me, I could focus on really creating something special that the coaches brought me here for in the offseason.”
Olsen was one of those coaches, and after his team’s fourth win in five games, he gushed about his striker.
“I thought Eddie was fantastic today,” Olsen said.
“It’s important for the fans to get behind him because he is in a lot of ways as good as it gets in this league,” the head coach added. “He has the ability to score, hold the ball up, technically he’s sound, he has good pace. He’s as well rounded as a forward as you can get in this league and now it’s nice to see him touch the net a little bit and hopefully this just keeps on getting better.”
If it does continue to improve, Johnson may have a trophy or two in his future to help make up for missing the plane to Brazil.