UPDATE: Goff and Maurer are both now reporting that it's a done deal, with United sending allocation money to Seattle for Johnson. Now we just wait for official confirmation.
UPDATE #2: It's official:
I've had this written all morning, waiting to hit publish, but the official word just doesn't seem to be dropping at the moment, so at the risk of jinxing everything, I'll run this post a bit prematurely. D.C. United has done what many fans this off-season have asked - and what many other fans have asked them not to do - and gone out and got themselves a Grown Ass Man. Pending league approval of the deal, Eddie Johnson will wear Black-and-Red in 2013. Rumors have been swirling for a couple days and only heated up overnight as it became apparent that a deal was imminent. Once the trade and a new contract are finalized, Johnson will reportedly be a designated player for United, who sent what must be assumed was a very large pile of allocation money - and zero draft picks - to the Seattle Sounders for the U.S. international. There is some speculation (mostly among Seattle fans, from what I've seen) that MLS will add some amount of allocation to United's offer in order to facilitate the trade and keep Johnson in the league, but I haven't seen any reporting on that issue. (Moreover, with reports that Johnson rejected an offer from a foreign team, I'm not sure there actually was a viable offer from outside of MLS.)
EJ brings something to the table that United was sorely missing last year or two: goals. Over 48 games for the Sounders the last couple seasons, Johnson has scored 23 times. If you combine United's leading scorers from the last two years - 2012 Chris Pontius and 2013 Luis Silva, Dwayne De Rosario and Kyle Porter - you get two fewer goals (12 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 21) in two more player-seasons. After adding to the defense in stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft, United was left with striker as obviously its greatest position of need. Dave Kasper & Co. just addressed that need.
Adding the GAM follows a similar theme to every signing United has made since midseason 2013: American. It started with young guys Luis Silva, Jared Jeffrey and Conor Doyle and shifted toward experience this offseason with Davy Arnaud, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin and now Eddie Johnson. Not a single international roster slot has found itself suddenly filled through all these transactions. Whether that pattern will continue or not we'll see over the rest of the winter. (But seriously, scout and sign an international, guys. We've got the whole world to draw from, not just Texas, California and Florida.)
Obviously, Johnson is an upgrade over every other forward we have on the roster. Just as obviously, he is potentially a huge risk. Charles Boehm has some fantastic reporting with behind-the-scenes details of the GAM's downfall in the Emerald City - the phrase "bridges burned" is in the headline - that could be a preview of what Ben Olsen is getting into with this signing. (It also notes that Johnson spurned a big offer from Liga MX to stay in MLS and essentially guarantee himself playing time in the lead-up to the World Cup.)
We'll be back over the coming days with tactical implications of EJ's pending signing and other knock-on effects it could have. For now though, let us know your reaction in the comments. What does this mean for D.C. United in 2014?
- MLS Re-Entry Draft: D.C. United Still Has Options In A Depleted Stage Two
- Eddie Johnson to D.C. United - All our Coverage
- What's Each MLS Team Known For? (Part 2, Expansion Teams)
- Freedom Kicks: D.C. United links for December 17, 2013
- DC Brau's collaboration beer with D.C. United, The Tradition, will be available in cans for 2014