In 17 games this season, the Sounders FC has started 17 different lineups.
With injuries, suspensions and a congested schedule that has seen the Sounders play more matches than all but Toronto FC this year, that has made finding cohesion within the team a difficult task at times.
That inconsistency in lineup has left the Sounders needing different players to step up and perform at different times and recently, the top performer has often been Eddie Johnson.
The 28-year-old forward scored twice on Saturday to help the Sounders fight back from an early 1-0 deficit, only to see the late lead slip and finish with a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution.
His first multi-goal game with the Sounders gives him a team-high seven goals on the season, including four in the last four matches.
“I just want to keep proving myself to the fans and to the organization that bringing me to Seattle was the right decision. The team’s under a lot of pressure right now,” Johnson said. “When you get a goal they start coming in waves and right now I’ve got to ride this wave and stay hungry.”
A late addition to the team during training camp, Johnson has found himself on the business end of crosses from the likes of Mauro Rosales and Marc Burch of late, capitalizing on Seattle’s strong play up the wings to get on the scoreboard.
It has also helped that he has recently gotten extra finishing work at the end of training with assistant coach Brian Schmetzer.
“It’s just day-to-day and week-to-week communicating with myself and Burch and Mauro when he’s out wide of making those runs in the box. We were able to capitalize on some of the crosses,” Johnson said. “When you get the chances, put them away.”
As valuable as Johnson’s goals have been, they have not yet led to Sounders victories. However, as was the case on Saturday, the kept draws from becoming losses which would make unbearable a difficult stretch that has seen them go 0-4-4.
Saturday’s draw at Gillette Stadium was a particularly difficult pill to swallow, as the Sounders were mere seconds away from earning their first win since May 9, but a goal in the waning moments of stoppage time quashed those hopes.
“It was a good point for us, but the goals don’t mean anything if you don’t turn them into wins,” Johnson said. “We’re all just fighting right now. We’ve got to find ways to win games. We’re not finding ways to win games. We just keep putting pressure on ourselves; it’s frustrating. You look around the locker room at the guys and it hurts.”
The Sounders will keep to the road with their next match, an Independence Day battle with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the Sounders stopped a 29-match home unbeaten streak for RSL last year.