The air has been cleared and now a goal has to be scored. It was not his intent, but forward Eddie Johnson stirred up a controversy with comments to mlssoccer.com about his adjustment to playing with D.C. United.
In seven games played so far Johnson has yet to score for United and he is eager to end that string when United plays 4 PM Saturday at Philadelphia on Comcast SportsNet. A goal by Johnson would be a welcome punctuation mark on a week that included a team meeting and an apology.
In the article on mlssoccer.com Johnson talked about not having to run as much when he played for Seattle and said he received better service when playing with the Sounders. To clear the air Johnson in a meeting with his United teammates apologized and added that he was trying to discuss the challenge of adapting to a new style.
United’s players understand Johnson is an emotional player. It is that drive that has also led to success for Johnson and the teams he has played for. In a long conversation Thursday at practice with Comcast SportsNet’s Santino Quaranta emphasized his desire to help United achieve its goals.
1. Moving forward from loss and controversy. This will be easy. In discussion with United’s players, they are eager to get Eddie Johnson back on the field. Johnson missed last week’s 3-2 loss to Portland with a hamstring injury. It is understood in the United locker room how hard Johnson works and how his presence has opened up space on the field for others—especially Fabian Espindola. To be sure United was stung by the game in Portland where at the very least the team believes it should have earned a point. United wants to show it is has matured and can properly manage a game.
2. Be ready for a physical and direct game. Saturday’s game might not be a beauty contest. The Philadelphia Union has failed to win in its last eight games. There is not much flow to the Union’s game right now and it is likely to be a physical tussle. That is not to say the Union does not have quality. Maurice Edu and Brian Carroll form a solid partnership in midfield in front of the back four and really dictate how things go for the Union. Edu and Carroll’s work allows Sebastian Le Toux and Vincent Nogueira to roam the midfield and create danger. United’s ability to disrupt Edu and Carroll will limit the Union’s ability to attack.