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Johnson shines in Preseason Debut

Eddie Johnson scored once and had a hand in two other goals in the Sounders FC's 5-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University.

BRADENTON, Florida – Eddie Johnson came to the Sounders with a lot of fanfare on Friday.

After two training sessions on Saturday, he showed the hype was warranted on Sunday when he scored a goal and had a hand in another in the first period in Seattle’s 5-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University.

Johnson scored the first goal and Christian Sivebæk and David Estrada added tallies before the end of the first period.  Michael Gspurning, Andrew Weber and Bryan Meredith shared playing time evenly to earn the shutout, the third straight for Seattle, who improved to 3-0-2 on the preseason.

“He’s got two good feet.  He can shoot left or right-footed and he showed that the left-footed goal he scored.  He can hold the ball up up front for us as well.  He’s got speed to get behind,” head coach Sigi Schmid said of Johnson.  “I think he and Fredy Montero are going to be very good together.” 

Johnson established himself early as a threat in the attacking third, putting consistent pressure on the defense.

In the 11th minute, he gave a glimpse of why Seattle actively pursued him in a trade with the Montreal Impact on Friday.  Taking the ball with his back to goal 40 yards out, Johnson turned a dribbled through the defense, doing a pair of step-overs before ripping a left-footed shot inside the left post for a goal and a 1-0 Sounders lead.

“I wasn’t worried about the opponent we were playing.  I just wanted to get sharp in front of the goal and when I get my opportunity, take it,” Johnson said.  “We did some finishing in front of the goal yesterday.  So I guess it’s a credit to coach.”

In the 14th minute, Johnson flicked a header forward for David Estrada, who led Sivebæk into the box, where he was taken down by the goalkeeper for a penalty.  Sivebæk, who was celebrating his 24th birthday on Sunday, knocked the PK low and to the goalkeeper’s right, while the keeper dove left, for the goal and a 2-0 lead.

Johnson would show his setup chops in the 28th minute when he looped a pass over the top of the defense to lead Cordell Cato into the box.  Cato went 1v1 with the goalkeeper, but his shot clanged off the crossbar.  However, Estrada was there to knock in the third goal on a diving header of the rebound for a 3-0 lead.

After the play, Johnson pulled up holding his hamstring, but walked off under his own strength and was taken out for precautionary measures.

“I think I could have kept going,” Johnson said.  “It was probably a bit of fatigue, but I pulled myself out because I didn’t want to make it worse.”

The match featured many of Seattle’s reserve players, as the expected starters for Wednesday’s closed-door friendly against Atlante in Cancun, Mexico, did light fitness work on a nearby field.  That allowed Estrada to continue to shine in preseason and thrust Cordell Cato and Alex Caskey into the spotlight as well.

In the third period, Seattle got a goal from an un-named trialist and were the beneficiaries of an own-goal to finish off the scoring for the day.

“It was a good opportunity for our guys to play,” Schmid said.  “I was pleased.  The first 30 minutes were very good and I thought we got back into it the last 30 minutes and managed the game fairly well.”

Seattle’s final training game before returning to Seattle will be a closed-door scrimmage against Mexico’s Atlante FC in Cancun, Mexico on Wednesday night.

Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Zach Scott) 11; Christian Sivebæk (PK) 14; David Estrada 28; Trialist 73; Own Goal 84.
Florida Gulf Coast – None.

Sounders FC – None.
Florida Gulf Coast – None.

Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning (Andrew Weber 31, Bryan Meredith 61), Zach Scott (Roger Levesque 31), Andrew Duran, Patrick Ianni (Andy Rose 47), Marc Burch (Amadou Sanyang 61), Cordell Cato (Alex Caskey 47), Servando Carrasco (Harlinton Guttieres 61), Mike Seamon, Christian Sivebæk (Michael Tetteh 31), Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 29), David Estrada (Babayele Sodade 47).
Florida Gulf Coast – Nathan Ingaham, Jelani Smith (Esteban Montano 71), Christian Robbs, Federico Crespo, Christian Velez, Thomas Granitto, Jeremy Volimer, Juan Castellon (Santiago Echeverri 71), William Morse, Andres Navas (Henry Penegos 47), Xavier Silva (Nick Russo 47).