Six years ago, the U.S. National Team was on a bit of a hot streak when it came to the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Winners of three of the past four tournaments, reigning supreme in the region’s tournament had become the expectation.
After falling short in the tournament in 2009 and 2011, though, the U.S. needed a spark. A rallying point. Something they could point to and reasonably argue that they have what it takes to win when all the cards are on the table.
Their 1-0 victory over Panama to win the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup was a bit of a statement for the American side and after the match, Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson looked around the locker room and took in the moment, knowing that he was one of only five players who had won the Gold Cup before.
“It meant a lot,” Johnson said, noting an observation of one of his teammates with both teams, Landon Donovan. “I think Landon said it best: Anytime you can look around and see the excitement on the young guys’ faces that haven’t really won anything, that’s pretty special to me.”
Johnson had two goals and one assist in his three matches, scoring in the quarterfinals against El Salvador and the semifinals against Honduras to help propel the U.S. to the final.
While it meant time away from his club team, Johnson said that getting playing time, winning a championship and finding his scoring touch made the sojourn worthwhile.
“It was good. It was well worth the time spent away. I’m delighted just to be a part of the team and coming into the team and playing a role in helping the team win, so it was good,” Johnson said. “Anytime you get a chance to win something and be a part of something special, it’s something no one can take from you and it’s a legacy you leave behind that you were a part of.”
Now back with Sounders FC, Johnson is poised to carry that goal-scoring form into league play.
After scoring a club record 14 goals in 2012, Johnson has four goals in 12 matches in league play this season. Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid said he has no plans to abandon the team’s use of Johnson on the field with Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle.
“I still think the possibility of all three of them being on the field together makes us a better team. It makes us more explosive and harder to figure out,” Schmid said.
The trio has combined for 15 goals this season and will have the chance to train together this week in preparation for FC Dallas on Saturday with the chance to become a longer-term attacking triumvirate.
While ready to face Dallas on Saturday, Johnson did make one stop before returning to Seattle this week, flying home to Florida to deliver his Gold Cup championship medal to his mother.
“My mom wanted it, and she deserves it,” he smiled. “She’s a proud mom.”