Back in 2007, Eddie Johnson bounced back from two seasons that were not up to the standards he had set for himself.
At 20 years old in 2004, he was starting to realize the potential viewed in him when he signed as a pro at just 17 years old, scoring 12 goals in his fourth season with the Dallas Burn.
However, he couldn’t duplicate those stats in 2005 or 2006, making a move to the Kansas City Wizards in the second of those seasons.
That’s when, in 2007, he returned to the scene in a big way with 15 goals and six assists for the Wizards, earning him MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors.
That, however, was just the opening act for his grand re-entrance to Major League Soccer with the Sounders FC this season and on Tuesday, Johnson’s tale of revival earned him the Comeback Player of the Year award for the second time.
“Eddie Johnson had a great resurgence with Seattle,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a conference call on Monday when highlighting the league’s top stories of the season. “Eddie joined our league when he was 17 years old and had one of his best years with us at 28. I still think he has a number of good years left in him.”
Johnson left MLS a star looking to ply his trade in Europe in 2007, but couldn’t find that same success with England’s Fulham and spent the majority of the next four seasons on loan to Cardiff City, Aris and Preston North End. By 2010, he had even fallen out of favor with the US National Team.
This February, he looked to return to the league that had shown him so much success in his younger years and came to the Sounders in a trade that sent Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to the Montreal Impact.
Playing alongside Fredy Montero and with Mauro Rosales providing service from the wing, Johnson rekindled the fire that made him a regular with the Stars and Stripes, scoring 14 goals with three assists for the Sounders and earning a spot with the US in their World Cup qualifying matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala, notching two goals and an assist in those two crucial matches that got the US into the hexagonal round.
“I want to thank Adrian (Hanauer), Sigi (Schmid) and Chris Henderson for making my dream to keep playing soccer at a high level a reality,” Johnson said after the season concluded for the Sounders with a loss in the Western Conference Championship series last week. “I came into a great situation, a great environment. I feel like I never got away from Europe playing here.”
In addition to crediting the Sounders FC technical staff for the faith they put in him to bring him to Seattle, he also credits his teammates, for putting that same faith in a player who had been written off by some around the soccer world.
“Coming back to MLS when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go, as far as my soccer career, there’s a lot of doubt. But one thing I can say is that my teammates have always been behind me,” he said. “Whenever you’re in an environment where people believe in you, the coaches believe in you, your teammates believe in you, you can only be successful at the end of the day. Especially in an environment like here in Seattle.”