Earlier this afternoon, it was reported by Steve Goff of the Washington Post that D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson, who is out indefinitely with an unspecified medical issue, may not play again this season and that it's possible that Eddie Johnson may have played his last game for United or any other team. Multiple sources indicated to Goff that the medical issue centers around his heart and could mean that Eddie Johnson's career may be over.
Fans of the Black-and-Red first learned of Johnson's heart problem at the end of last season, where 48 hours before the second leg of the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Red Bulls, he was checked into a hospital suffering from dehydration and high blood pressure. Later, in an interview explaining the medical incident, EJ explained that he had an enlarged heart, which isn't an uncommon ailment in athletes.
It's easy to see what this would mean for United, with the loss of a great player like Johnson for, at the very least, would seem to be an extensive period of time. But, what we really need to focus on is that how this would affect Eddie Johnson. Any issues of the heart can be a serious situation, especially for an athlete. I know full well how serious a heart condition can be. I was born with a coarctation of the aorta and a heart murmur. This required me to undergo a balloon angioplasty when I was a year old. I was told I couldn't play tackle football or ice hockey because of the risks associated with repeated hits to the chest area. A balloon angioplasty for a child is a scary thing. But, I'm fortunate to be one of the lucky ones. The surgery corrected the coarctation, and throughout my childhood I was cared for by some of the best doctors in the world. Because of this, I've been able to live a normal life. I can play soccer and basketball and softball/baseball and volleyball and most other sports. I was a track star in high school that competed internationally in sprints in France and Spain. And, my heart doesn't stop me from doing just about anything I want to do.
Still, despite my wildest childhood ambitions of being an Olympic 100-meter champion, I'm not a world-class athlete. Eddie Johnson is a world-class athlete. A heart ailment of any kind can affect athletes immensely. It's best to figure out exactly what EJ is dealing with so he can make the best plans for dealing with it in the future, even if it means that his playing career is done. We've seen one too many soccer players whose heart ailments led to cardiac arrest on the field or other future problems that have crippled their lives after soccer. We certainly don't want that to come to pass again, on this team or any team around the world.
Whether Eddie Johnson plays another game for United or has to call it a season or longer, the main concern of United fans should be for his health. Of course, we want him back in the lineup, as his presence would be welcome in a lineup with a lot of injuries and absences due to suspension. However, his first job is to stay in the care of his great doctors so they can determine what the issues are and what, if any, corrective action will be necessary for him to take. It's tough at a time like this for all of us to be patient, but patience is key to getting to the root cause.
We will hopefully learn more in the coming weeks about Johnson's condition and how long, in fact, he will be out. Some people may want him back in the lineup scoring goals in that black shirt with the red and white trim. I just want him to be healthy. He deserves that above all else.