Two years to the day since his last international appearance, Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson has an opportunity to play with the US National Team on Friday when the US meets Antigua and Barbuda in a qualifier for the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
Johnson’s last appearance for the US National Team came as a substitute in a scoreless draw against Colombia on October 12, 2010, and on Monday, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann included Johnson in his 24-man roster for the match with Antigua and Barbuda and for a match October 16 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City against Guatemala.
“It feels good. It’s been a long road, a lot of hurdles I’ve had to overcome, a lot of adversity I’ve faced. The good feeling about all of this is I get to share it with the people that believed in me,” Johnson said. “The Sounders gave me a second chance so I could get out there and show everyone that I can still play at a high level and that I can still be someone that plays a very important role in a big organization like the Seattle Sounders.”
Johnson came to the Sounders in a trade with the Montreal Impact in preseason and has led the team with 14 goals, including one in Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday. He credits head coach Sigi Schmid with keying his turnaround after four seasons in Europe left him out of favor with the national team.
“As a player, it’s important whenever you’re playing for a manager who has a confidence in you, and Sigi showed confidence in me from day one,” Johnson said. “I just told him I wanted to pay him back for giving me a second chance. I’m very fortunate that things are going well and I’m really looking forward to getting back with my team because I know we can do some good things come playoff time.”
Klinsmann was quick to credit Schmid as well, as the two speak frequently about potential call-ups.
“I think Eddie is back into that position because he worked very hard for it. If you watch his games and his drive, his hunger that he has, the way he chases defenders and the way he creates himself and his striking partners chances. The way he also finishes things off speaks for him,” Klinsmann said. “I think he really deserved that call.”
Johnson joined the rest of the US squad in Miami on Monday, where they will train on Tuesday and Wednesday before departing for Antigua on Thursday ahead of Friday’s match.
These are critical matches for the US (2-1-1), who sit tied atop the Group A standings with Jamaica (2-1-1) and Guatemala (2-1-1). Antigua and Barbuda is at the bottom of the four-team group at 0-3-1.
The top two teams in the group will advance to the hexagonal stage, with six teams meeting home and away from February-October of 2013 for the chance to play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
In addition to Johnson, defender Adam Johansson was called in to Sweden and midfielder Mario Martinez got the call from Honduras. Sweden meets Faroe Islands on October 12 and Germany on October 16. Honduras faces Panama on October 12 and Canada on October 16.
The Sounders will meet Real Salt Lake in their next match at CenturyLink Field on October 17.