His acquisition for some large amount of allocation money is, without question, the biggest of D.C. United's offseason. For all the areas where the Black-and-Red were bad in 2013 - and that really does include all of them - scoring goals (in the other team's net) was probably where they were in the worst way. A goalscorer is what was needed, and that is what Ben Olsen and Dave Kasper got with Eddie Johnson. He led the Seattle Sounders in goals each of the last two years, even after guys like Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey were brought on board. He's scored timely and important goals for the U.S. Men's National Team. Now, he'll be asked to finish chances for a team that historically futile in that department last season.
He'll have some help, of course, from fellow newcomer Fabian Espindola and what we hope will be an improved Nick DeLeon and (eventually) healthy Chris Pontius, as well as a new tactical setup that should better utilize the talents of Luis Silva. But in the end, EJ is here to shoulder the goalscoring load. Which brings us to our questions for today: Will he be able to do it, and what happens to United if he can't?
I'll note that Johnson has yet to score in preseason, though he has gotten himself into good positions both with and without the ball - his pressure helped to force the own goal against Houston, and he missed a six-yard sitter in the Charleston game - so that doesn't worry me too much. I'll be interested to see how he and the rest of the team fare at generating chances against the Sounders this evening. I have every belief that if the GAM finds himself at the end of chances this year, he'll finish them - the issue for this team, as it was last year, will be creating those scoring opportunities.
If that doesn't happen, or if the chances are being created but it's Espindola, Silva, DeLeon finishing them, the question EJ becomes how he will react. Will he get into his own head and start thinking instead of playing, or getting too selfish to try and push his own tally to the detriment of the team? Or will he stay in line and work toward the betterment of the group? Here's hoping we won't have to find out.
Stepping back, there is still the open question of his contract. Johnson is locked in for the 2014 season, but the team and his agent have begun conversations to ink EJ to a new deal, one that would make him a designated player. Johnson has always done well when two things are present: (1) an environment where he feels needed and appreciated and (2) motivation. Eddie's saying all the right things in interviews, and his history with Ben Olsen indicates that we should be good on the former. The looming World Cup should take care of the latter for the first half of the season, anyway. The post-Brazil portion of the season we'll have to see about when we get there.
So, readers, as we build up to the last preseason game later today, let us know in the comments what kind of year you think it will be for Eddie Johnson and what needs to happen for you to consider his season to be a success. And then, of course, join us in this evening's gamethread as we take on the Sounders.