When the Sounders FC acquired Lamar Neagle from the Montreal Impact, many in the Seattle area rejoiced at the return of a native son.
Few, however, were happier than Sounders forward Eddie Johnson.
“The city can’t give me crap anymore,” Johnson laughed. “I was definitely happy to see him back to take some of that pressure off of me.”
Johnson has plenty of reasons to be happy in 2013. On Friday, he was in Seattle for the first time during 2013 training camp.
In addition to his stellar season in 2012 for the Sounders when he posted a franchise-record 14 goals, Johnson also rocketed back into the picture for the US National Team both with his performance in MLS and his two goals and one assist in two World Cup qualifying group stage matches in October, helping the US reach the hexagonal round.
Johnson was with the US during January training camp and started in a 2-1 loss to Honduras on Wednesday. While the loss was disappointing, the experience was valuable for Johnson and Seattle midfielder Brad Evans, who didn’t appear in the match but was included in the roster by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“It was good for me and Brad to go get that experience and bring that back here to Seattle with the Sounders,” Johnson said. “We’re looking forward to doing good things here in Seattle. It says a lot about how our season went last year to be involved with the national team.”
While Johnson and Evans were in Carson, California, for training camp with the National Team, the Sounders started camp of their own at their home training ground at Starfire, then in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Johnson, for one, was anxious to get back with the team that embraced him so much while helping him regain the high-scoring form that earned him a spot with the US National Team in 2004. He first joined the Sounders last year in mid-February and was limited in how much he could train with the team when he was stricken by a pair of hamstring injuries. Now fully fit and healthy, he is joining the team much stronger and ready to help the team reach new heights in 2013.
“I’ve been dying to get back to get with the guys. It’s going to be a very exciting year,” he said. “Preseason is important to form that chemistry on the field and get the understanding of the players that you’re going to be playing with.”
He will also do so now with Neagle as a teammate, a welcome sight for fans and players alike.
After posting five goals in 2011, Neagle leapt to local stardom with the Sounders, but then was traded along with Mike Fucito to Montreal to bring in Johnson during training camp in 2012. Those fans who questioned the trade to begin with had to be happy a year later though after Johnson had a stellar season and the Sounders re-acquired Neagle for the minimal cost of an international roster slot.
It’s no wonder Johnson was in such a good mood upon his return to Starfire.