Johnson nearing full fitness ahead of Santos match

Johnson nearing full fitness ahead of Santos match

The American forward has been bothered by a slight hamstring injury lately but appears ready to go against Santos.

The Sounders have a roster that boasts several different veteran options at forward.

Eddie Johnson, Sammy Ochoa and David Estrada all scored seven or more goals across all competitions in 2012. Add to that the newly acquired Obafemi Martins with all of his success in leagues around Europe, and the Seattle roster boasts plenty of attacking options.

However, injuries left head coach Sigi Schmid with just one of those options available to him in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal series against Santos Laguna on Tuesday and Ochoa performed well in his role as the lone striker in a 1-0 loss at CenturyLink Field.

Now in need of some scoring touch in the second leg on Tuesday in Torreon, Mexico, the Sounders had Johnson back in training on Friday as they prepared for the difficult task of coming back against one of the top clubs in Mexico.

“Each day I’m getting better and I’m looking forward to the game,” Johnson said.

Johnson had a club record 14 regular season goals in 2012, adding one each in the MLS Cup playoffs, CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup play last year. This year, he scored the series-winning goal against Tigres UANL in the quarterfinals of Champions League and added another goal in league play against the Portland Timbers. However, he has been limited in his time with the Sounders due to his play with the US National Team in World Cup qualifying matches last month. After rejoining the Sounders for a match against Real Salt Lake on March 30, he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out of the first leg on Tuesday.

Now back in training, he could be just the scoring punch the Sounders need against Santos.

“He was able to do more today so we wanted to see if he can be in the full warm up, and we got him to do a little bit of the offense against defense,” Schmid explained after training on Friday. “Tomorrow is an easier day, then we will see where he is at Sunday and that will make a determination whether he is a guy who can start or a guy who can come and play off the bench for us. We’ll have to make that decision then.”

Kickoff for the Champions League Semifinal match is scheduled for 5 pm PT at Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer and can also be followed on the live blog at SoundersFC.com or on Twitter by following @livesounders.

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