Just before Eddie Johnson left for Fulham after the 2007 MLS season, he made his second appearance in the MLS All-Star Game, starting in a 2-0 win over Celtic at the Colorado Rapids home stadium at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
When he returned to MLS with the Sounders FC, the club hoped he would return to that All-Star form. So far, he’s done just that with eight goals in Seattle’s first 20 games and on Sunday he was named to the 2012 MLS All-Star team that will face Chelsea at the Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park.
“He’s certainly done what we think he could do,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We felt that if Eddie Johnson was going to be able to regain his form then we would have a player who could play at a level that was going to help our team step into the next level and have a chance to win MLS Cup.”
Before signing with Fulham, Johson scored 41 goals with Dallas and Kansas City from 2001-2007, including a 12-goal season in 2004 and a 15-goal season in 2007. In his return, he has been steady in 17 appearances, never going more than three games without a goal.
This time around the All-Star nod means a little bit more to Johnson because he didn’t find the success he hoped to find in Europe. He was with Fulham from 2008 until last summer, but spent most of his time in Europe out on loan with three other clubs.
“It means a lot because my career has been up and down. I didn’t have a club for nine months. I came back to the league and didn’t have a full preseason with the team,” Johnson said. “I just put my head down and worked hard and it paid off.”
While the recognition of the All-Star team is a moment of triumph, he quickly points to his teammates that helped him get back on track as one of the top American goal-scorers.
“It’s an individual award at the end of the day, but it’s a team sport and we get pushed by our teammates to put ourselves in the position to make the All-Star team,” Johnson said. “Anytime you get to represent the best of the league, it goes to show all the hard work that you put in, how much your teammates push you week-in and week-out and how your team is doing.”
Johnson will be joined by midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who was also selected to the team last year, but did not travel to the match since the Sounders were playing in a CONCACAF Champions League match the night before the All-Star game.
Alonso has been a defensive force in the midfield, disrupting the opposition with his timely tackles and frequent interceptions. He, too, was added by DC United head coach Ben Olsen, who will coach the All-Stars on July 25.
“It’s a deserved selection. Ozzie, for me is one of the top defensive midfielders in the league if not the top one,” Schmid said. “His ability to recover the ball and his ability to keep the flow of the game going is getting better all the time. It’s very well-deserved.”
Alonso took great pride in being named to the 2011 squad and is even more thrilled to have the opportunity next week to play with the rest of the All-Stars.
“I’m so happy and proud because of the work I do with the team,” he said. “I made the 32-man roster last year, now I get to go to Philly to play in that game, I’m very happy for the opportunity.”
The Sounders will face Chelsea in a friendly on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field, then won’t play again until July 28 when they face the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. TheAll-Star match on July 25 will be televised on ESPN2 at 5:30pm Pacific.