U.S. calls Johnson, leaves Seattle Sounders short

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMay 17, 2013 

Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson was among 26 players called in to the U.S. national team Thursday by coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The move is expected to cost Johnson two Major League Soccer matches with the Sounders. However, he could get an extra appearance in Seattle, which will be the site of Team USA’s World Cup qualifier against Panama on June 11.

“Fingers crossed I’m involved,” Johnson said Thursday as word came down after Sounders training at CenturyLink Field. “This is my office. This is where we get paid as players to come and perform, and the fans come and watch us play. It would be an honor to play in front of my home fans and wear the shirt.”

Johnson would join the national team for training in Cleveland and friendlies May 29 against Belgium and June 2 against Germany. Team USA would resume World Cup qualifying with a June 7 match at Jamaica, the U.S.-Panama match in Seattle and a June 18 date against Honduras in Utah.

Over that stretch, the Sounders will play their U.S. Open Cup opener May 29 against an opponent to be determined, followed by MLS matches June 1 at Chivas USA and June 8 at home against Vancouver.

In this MLS season, Johnson, 29, is one of four Sounders tied for the team lead with two goals. He leads in shots (16) and shots on goal (six).

Over 48 international appearances, he has 14 career goals. He helped the United States advance in this World Cup qualifying cycle by contributing two goals and an assist in matches against Antigua and Barbuda, and Guatemala last October.

“Eddie is a guy with amazing pace,” Klinsmann said in a Sounders press release. “He can surprise people going one-against-one and can create something out of nothing.”

A full list of Team USA call-ins is available at blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer.

CUP CONTROVERSY

It seems every season the Sounders have faced one controversy or another over U.S. Open Cup scheduling, and they didn’t have to wait long to run into another this year.

The portion of the tournament draw involving MLS teams was announced this week, and the most likely outcome has the Sounders traveling to Florida for a May 29 match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. That would come during a week when Seattle has two road games scheduled in the Los Angeles area: May 26 at the Galaxy and June 1 at Chivas.

“The only place we could have played is Miami that’s further away, unless Puerto Rico is considered part of the Open Cup,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s definitely not optimal. Last year I got in trouble saying things about the Open Cup, so I guess I can’t say too much. … But I’m never quite sure if they redraw it every round, if it’s done on a regional basis. … (U.S. Soccer should) put a bracket out there right from the beginning, and then there’s no ifs, ands or buts and no questions.”

The Sounders would avoid the cross-country trip if VSI Tampa Bay FC of third-division United Soccer Leagues Pro beats the second-division Rowdies of the North American Soccer League on Tuesday. If that happens, the USL Pro team would meet the Sounders May 29 at Starfire Soccer Stadium in Tukwila.

ADDED TIME

Sounders U-23 lost its Premier Development League opener, 2-0, at Portland Timbers U-23s on Thursday. Sounders U-23 will remain on the road for its next PDL match, Sunday at the Victoria Highlanders. … Sounders FC will conclude training Friday for its match against MLS-leading FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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