On the 31st of August in a match between the Seattle Sounders and the Columbus Crew, Eddie Johnson (He will be known from this point forward as GAM. What's GAM? My word, how do you not know this? Eddie is a Grown Ass Man. He doesn't play video games.) looked toward the heavens, rubbed his fingers together, and said "Pay me." multiple times.
The soccer media were furious, especially Ridge Mahoney at Soccer America. (Yeah, I was also surprised that it wasn't Paul Dinosaur Gardner, too.)
So is Johnson just crying out for attention, to bring his crusade for a new contract public? Probably. The shelf life of a professional athlete is relatively short and the prime age for most soccer players is about where he is now, at 29. His next contract could well be his last major deal.
Yet that was a very childish 29-year-old on display in Columbus, and it can't have helped his bargaining position with Seattle management. However, it's probably not harmed it much either, since Johnson has done what he's paid to do -- score goals -- since re-starting his career in Seattle. He's netted 25 in 57 games, and is already second on the team's all-time MLS goalscoring list. His national team career is back on track, too.
Scoring goals is something his teammates, coaches and fans can count on. But the player who once described himself as a "Grown-Ass Man" really isn't.
We have a guy scoring a lot of goals that's about to enter into contract negotiations. He wants a pay increase from his paltry $150k a year salary to something more in line with the other big goalscorers in the league. I will concede that GAM getting paid only $150k is without a doubt his fault so reasons that have already been said, so I won't get into that. However, he put together arguably the most impressive year and a half of any goalscorer in MLS up to that point. Why shouldn't he be paid more in line with his talent and production?
As the season started to come to an end and the rumors that the Sounders would be looking to move GAM, it seemed like every team in the league was linked with a move for him at some point. Well, the All Knowing Goff has an update today for us.
D.C. United is in the running to acquire U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson, a proven scorer with a temperamental streak who has sought a pay raise in Seattle, the Insider has learned.
The Los Angeles Galaxy and at least one other MLS club, believed to be Chivas USA, are also aggressively pursuing Johnson. A resolution is possible in the coming days, according to sources familiar with the talks.
Goff goes on to say that DC would be sending allocation money to Seattle for the deal to get completed and then goes on to remind us that United only scored 22 goals last year.
I have a message for Dave Kasper and DC United:
Pull the trigger.
The roster rebuilding has started in earnest with the trade for Davy Arnaud, picking up Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin in the first re-entry draft, and making Conor Doyle's loan permanent. However, United needs a proven goal scorer, and GAM is definitely that. While I understand the fear that "GAM loses his edge once he gets paid." from some, I don't believe that fear is enough to justify not taking this chance.
GAM provides a similar versatility to that of Doyle with his ability to lead the front line and drift out wide, but the difference is that GAM has proven he knows how to score goals. He scored 12 goals in 27 appearances in all competitions for Seattle last season and was their leading scorer for the second year in a row. United's leading scorer last season was Dwayne De Rosario who had 8 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions. I will note that five of DeRo's goals came in the US Open Cup, including a pretty impressive hat trick against the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round.
There's no questioning the fact that DC needs to fix the defense. The signings of Franklin and Boswell go a long way toward making DC's defense respectable, but everyone knows that to win games in soccer you must figure out a way to score goals. This team scored only 22 goals last season. Even the world's best sugarcoater can't sugarcoat that statistic.
DC United needs a goalscorer that is available. Grown Ass Man is goalscorer that is available.
Pull that trigger, Dave. Pull it.