To say that yesterday's trade sending Eddie Johnson from the Seattle Sounders to D.C. United was the biggest American soccer news of the day would be overstatement. Hell, it essentially relegated a really well-reported story on the latest in United's ongoing efforts to build a stadium at Buzzard Point to the D-Block. And we here at Black and Red United obviously weren't the only ones talking about the Grown Ass Man. Here are some other reactions from around the web.
Let's start with our fellow United fans, like Jeff Maurer, the Washington Post's Soccer Outsider, who was hoping for something more than EJ - proven MLS goal-scorer that he is - at the #9 spot next year:
To me, Eddie Johnson represents a definite upgrade but also a lack of ambition. United is getting a proven-good MLS player but seem to be punting on getting a possibly great MLS player. Even if Drogba or Berbatov aren't on the way - and as long as the stadium situation is in limbo I highly doubt that they will be - finding an Alvaro Saborio (quality player from a lesser-known league) or a Marco Di Vaio (aging star who still has something left) is what scouts are paid to do. With Johnson taking up a designated player spot, it's unlikely that another striker is on the way.
Thomas Floyd of Goal.com got some new quotes out of Dave Kasper:
United coach Ben Olsen is familiar with Johnson after the two were teammates on the USA's squads at the 2006 World Cup and 2007 Copa America. Olsen also selected Johnson as a coach's pick for the 2012 All-Star Game, in which the striker scored the game-winning goal for the MLS side over Chelsea. "It always helps, that chemistry, that relationship," Kasper said. "It's definitely a plus. It's not a dealbreaker, but the starting point will be much better because they know each other."
Over in Seattle, Jeremiah Oshan and the gang at Sounder at Heart are pretty pleased with the transaction, even if they recognize that Kenny Cooper & Co. have some big shoes to fill:
As for the actual on-field effect, this will surely be felt. Whatever you may have thought of Johnson's personality, he was a force to be reckoned with. He'll leave the Sounders having scored 28 goals across all competitions, second in Sounders MLS history to Fredy Montero. Three of Johnson's goals came in the playoffs, which is more than any other player in the club's MLS history. He also had a tendency to score in big games, finding the back of the net five times in seven career games against the Portland Timbers.
The LA Galaxy were the other MLS club reported to be in the finals of the Eddie Johnson Sweepstakes (well, them and Chivas USA). While Josie Becker of LAG Confidential would have preferred adding a Grown Ass Man to the Gals roster, she's pretty okay with the way things ended up:
Eddie Johnson going to DC United is sort of a best case scenario for LA if they weren't going to land the striker. The Sounders are making a number of deals this offseason so it's hard to know exactly what they'll look like next season, but they won't have Johnson to burn LA on set pieces anymore. Nor will rival Chivas USA, who have been making a fair number of deals on their own.
At the league website, the Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle is very high on this move for the Black-and-Red. As is his wont, he focuses on the tactics, noting that service shouldn't be a problem for the new target man in RFK:
The Bad: United were near the top of the league in crosses from open play, but near the bottom in crossing accuracy. And only three teams attempted fewer headers.
The Good: EJ was fourth in the league in total headed shots, and third in headed shots on target. He will do all the stuff that they had Lionard Pajoy, and Carlos Ruiz, and Casey Townsend, and Conor Doyle doing last year, but he will do it better. This will not be a stylistic adjustment: this will be a "holy crap, we have somebody there who can actually finish one of these!" adjustment.
We'll wrap up with ProSoccerTalk's Richard Farley, who focused on the big personalities involved - Eddie Johnson, of course, and Ben Olsen:
Of course, everybody will be wondering about personalities. Rightly or wrongly, Johnson's acquired a certain reputation throughout his Major League Soccer career, flames of which will only be fanned by how he's leaving Seattle. Olsen, a former U.S. international himself, is not known as somebody with a high tolerance for player entitlement. On the surface, this seems like a potentially combustable relationship. While that's certainly the case, implying Olsen can't handle egos seems to short-change him as a coach. Perhaps, at 36 years old, Olsen still lacks the type of man management experience Schmid brought to bear on Johnson, but he won't be completely ignorant of the need to employ different approaches with different players. That doesn't mean one set of rules for E.J., another for the rest of the team (something Olden would probably frown on), but if it means having to go the extra mile to make sure you're always on the same page as a key player, Olsen's certainly capable of doing it.
Now that we've all had time to sleep on it, share your day-after take on the EJ acquisition down in the comments.
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