Eddie Johnson set for shock retirement from soccer

By Sandy Beeson – Twitter: @Sandy_Beeson

US international striker Eddie Johnson looks set for a shock retirement with the Washington Post reporting that the 31-year-old forward will call time on his career with MLS side DC United due to an ongoing heart condition.

Johnson has been absent from United’s training camp during preseason and the opening weeks of the 2015 campaign because of the condition. Speaking to the Washington Post, United head coach Ben Olsen said: “It’s a terrible situation for Eddie. There is a potential life issue here that has to be focused on and making sure he is not putting himself in any danger to play this sport again. That is all that matters.”

It was before the critical second-leg of DC’s playoff tie against New York Red Bulls on November 8th last year that the condition was first identified. United went on to win the match in Johnson’s absence 2-1 but went out on away goals having lost the first-leg 2-0.

With Johnson taking up a Designated Player spot on DC United’s roster there are due to be imminent legal wrangles, confirmed by Washington Post journalist Steven Goff on Twitter, between the league and the player’s union. It is understood that United are due to be granted cap relief in light of Johnson’s career-ending injury.

Joining MLS at the age of 16, Johnson would leave as the 21st highest scorer in league history, having scored 71 goals in 202 appearances with Dallas Burn/FC Dallas, Kansas City Wizards and Seattle Sounders before joining DC United on a DP contract prior to the 2014 season.

Between 2008 and 2011 Johnson spent time with then Premier League outfit Fulham, but was unable to make an impact for the Cottagers and was loaned out to Cardiff City, Greek side Aris and Preston North End. Despite his profligacy in Europe, Johnson was regularly selected for the US national team and is currently eighth on the all-time scorers list with 19 goals in 63 appearances.

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2014 MLS Season Review: DC United

Eastern Conference final position: 1st

Eastern Conference playoffs: Semi-Final

Best Moment

3-0 win against the reigning MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in August, in which they were 3-0 up at halftime.

Worst Moment

Easily the recent 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in their Eastern Conference semi-final first-leg. DC failed to score and left themselves with just a little too much to do against their rivals.

Player of the Year

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Bill Hamid – it was tough to decide between him and Fabian Espindola. However, the DC keeper has more than earned this title. Superb all season and he looks set for a bright future with DC and the USMNT.

Biggest Win

DC United 4-1 FC Dallas (April 26 2014)

Biggest Defeat

LA Galaxy 4-1 DC United (August 28 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

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DC United‘s remarkable improvement from the 2013 season saw them cruise into the playoffs and that deserves great credit. They will expect to be challenging at the top of the Eastern Conference once again next season but need to play much the same style. They must follow up a solid season defensively and will look to add a few more goals to their tally. Eddie Johnson must start firing (if he remains in DC) if they are to challenge for the MLS Cup.

Breaking down the USMNT 25-man squad for upcoming friendlies

Jurgen Klinsmann named his 25-man squad for the upcoming USMNT friendlies against Colombia and Republic of Ireland today and there were a mixture of familiar faces as well as new ones in the roster.

The two friendlies may not be competitive games, but Klinsmann will want to end an excellent 2014 on a high and the first game against a no.3 ranked Colombia side on Friday will be a real test that many players will relish playing in.

“We want to finish 2014 on a high note and continue to try to meet the top teams eye to eye,” said Klinsmann.

“In these last two games we want our veterans to really become mentors both on and off the field, and we want to see our youngsters take advantage of the opportunity to make their case and grow from the experience. These performances will set the tone for 2015.”

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

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No real surprises here. Tim Howard is taking a year off international duty so Brad Guzan will expect to continue as first-choice. Though the fact that these are friendly games should see rotation between the sticks. Sean Johnson will be delighted with his call-up but he is unlikely to feature. Bill Hamid is certainly looking like the future no.1 ‘keeper and he deserves more and more responsibility from now on.

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

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Mostly usual names in here but some surprise inclusions nonetheless. Firstly, Matt Besler looked extremely tired at the end of Sporting Kansas City’s season and needs a long rest during the offseason. A long trip to Europe is not what he needs.

John Brooks is also a surprise inclusion as he has fallen down the pecking order at Hertha Berlin while Geoff Cameron and Jermaine Jones have been called up in defence to presumably play centre-back but neither are naturals in the position. Jones is a far better midfielder and the experiment at centre-back against Honduras didn’t exactly flourish. Facing a pacey Colombian attack will be a major test.

DeAndre Yedlin is one of three players called up who are still likely to be involved in the MLS Playoffs and so his game time may be limited. And any action he does see could be in midfield once again.

It’s a shame not to see Bolton Wanderer’s Tim Ream called up as he has been in good form this season.

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

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Michael Bradley misses out as he recovers from a foot injury so some new faces are involved. Lee Nguyen has been rewarded for an incredible year though New England’s participation in the playoffs could limit his game time. Alfredo Morales in involved once again but it would have been nice to see a couple of MLS players called up considering the games are non-competitive.

The likes of Luis Gil, Will Trapp and Perry Kitchen could have all been given the nod by Klinsmann but he has overlooked all three on this occasion.

Kyle Beckerman will hope to forget about Real Salt Lake’s humiliating MLS playoff loss to LA Galaxy by ending what has been a great year for him on a high, while Julian Green could impress again.

Graham Zusi has been overlooked but he looked just as tired as teammate Besler and will likely be pleased that he can recover.

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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The major surprises in the roster are in the attack. Clint Dempsey misses out playing at his former ground Craven Cottage as some new faces are set to see some action. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, Miguel Ibarra and Rubio Rubin have all made the squad and will be desperate to impress.

Miguel Ibarra plays in NASL and Bobby Wood is struggling to make any kind of impact for an 1860 Munich side that is near the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga.

While Jordan Morris has yet to leave College and is still a student at Stanford. All three will hope to see some minutes but Rubio Rubin is the most exciting to watch.

The 18-year-old has been called up for the second successive time and will expect to win his first cap this time around. He has four assists in nine games for Utrecht in the Eredivisie and is a versatile attacker with a bright future ahead of him.

Jozy Altidore continues to earn call-ups despite failing to get in the Sunderland team while Aaron Johansson and Terrance Boyd are not deemed fit enough having recently recovered from injuries.

Eddie Johnson has been overlooked once again and his USMNT career looks to be over as long as Klinsmann is in charge.

What do you make of the latest USMNT squad?

Playoff Preview and Prediction: D.C United vs New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls take a 2-0 lead to RFK Memorial Stadium on Saturday night in the second-leg of their Eastern Conference semi-final, and D.C United has it all to do to overturn the deficit.

Firstly, the home side have to make more scoring chances, as they looked like a defensive team in a training session during the second-half of the first-leg last week.

And more importantly they have to tighten up defensively. For both goals on Sunday night they were opened up by the formidable Red Bulls attack, as Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips were given too much time and space on many occasions.

Having enjoyed 53% of the possession, we were hoping there would be more life in United; with Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson nullified by the Red Bulls defense.

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D.C being at home in this game may sway the momentum and we may get a classic. However, it’s hard to see D.C shutting out the Red Bulls, and if that’s the case they will need at least four goals to progress. Though with a keeper of Bill Hamid’s quality, D.C always has a chance of keeping a clean sheet, and they did in this fixture twice in the regular season.

D.C’s home record: Played 17 – Won 11 – Drawn 4 – Lost 2

This one could go down to the wire, as both sides have been sublime as of late. But one of them has to exit the competition.

Their long-time rivalry means it could be an aggressive match and that will suit New York more than the hosts, as the Red Bulls know that they need to just remain tight and organised to keep the clock ticking.

New York’s away record: Played 17 – Won 3 – Drawn 7 – Lost 7

The Red Bulls are taking an impressive 1,000 fans to D.C for the away-leg and that support will be key, as we should see a fantastic atmosphere for the game.

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New York lost 1-0 and then 2-0 at D.C earlier in the regular season and the same result as the latter here would force the game to extra-time and potentially penalties, in what should be a drama-filled night regardless.

Key Stat: The first-leg saw D.C fail to score for the first time in an MLS Playoffs match since 2007.

Key Player: Fabian Espindola – The Red Bulls look favorites, but if D.C are going to progress, expect the former-Red Bull to be key.

D.C’s last five: D/W/W/D/L

New York’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Prediction: D.C United 2 – 1 New York Red Bulls. Should be a tight contest, but New York to seal their place in the Eastern Conference final come the end of the game.

Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs DC United

Montreal Impact entertain DC United this weekend in the Canadian side’s final game of the season, though looking at the game in short, it would appear an open and shut case.

The Impact have struggled all season to find any form and with 18 losses to their 33 played its not surprising they’re at the foot of the Eastern Conference.

DC just keep on rolling through the games, three wins on the bounce and unbeaten in eight in all competitions, it is the form of a side worthy of silverware, and they will hope for MLS Cup glory at the end of the playoffs.

The strength and experience in the DC midfield has certainly helped to make them one of the most consistent sides across the entire league.

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And with Eddie Johnson now finding form, United could be a real threat in the post-season.

Montreal will take some expectation into the game, with a commendable record in previous ties against DC, avoiding defeat in three of the last six.

DC will finish the regular season at the top of the Eastern Conference regardless of the result in Montreal, but they will want to continue to showcase their winning mentality and nothing but a win will be seen as acceptable.

Key Player: Fabian Espindola –  Again, it has to be his goal output to comment on and he will surely fancy his chances of finding the net against one of the league’s weakest sides.

Key stat: Connect four? Montreal have drawn their last three games, and they’ll have to be alert to take anything from the game but without a loss in three, there is no reason they can’t send the home fans happy for the winter.

Montreal Impact Last 5: W/L/D/D/D

DC United Last 5: W/W/D/W/W

Prediction: Montreal Impact 1-3 DC United

What can we take from DC’s 1-0 win over SKC?

DC United stretched Sporting Kansas City’s winless run to five on Saturday night thanks to a superb effort from the in-form Fabian Espindola. We take a look at what we learnt from the match:

1. Fabian Espindola’s goal.

Whether he meant is or not, it was still a superb effort. It could have quite easily have been a cross, meant for Eddie Johnson, but it ended up in the top corner. So he’d probably say he meant it.

Espindola has been sensational for DC so far this season and added his seventh on Saturday. The longer he can sustain his brilliance, the easier it will be for fans to get frustrated with Johnson. EJ needs goals and fast, with them both firing, they could win the title.

2. Erik Palmer-Brown was better.

The 17-year-old centre-half marked his debut a few weeks ago by giving away a penalty and receiving a red card, but was much better on Saturday despite his side’s loss.

A raw talent with bags of potential, he will need to adapt quickly to the expectations of the Champions quickly as they are missing their defensive leader, Matt Besler, who is away with the USMNT at the World Cup.

3. DC love a red card.

In the last four matches, DC has managed to notch up 3 suspensions, one of them being retrospective and the other two straight reds. Two of these suspensions were Eddie Johnson.

Alex Caskey picked up a straight red in the final seconds, despite only being on the pitch for a matter of minutes, and they will need to cut this out sooner rather later if they are to continue their charge for the Eastern Conference title.

4. Eddie Johnson needs goals!

At this point we’re not sure how much longer he can go without a goal. He seems to have all the hunger and desire to score but no luck.

His one goal won’t be enough either; he will need to add more and either a brace or a run of games with goals will make the difference in his fortunes, just so he knows he can score. He did however; open up the SKC defence a few times with some clever runs.

5. What happened to Dom Dwyer?

He was playing, just in case you weren’t sure, but failed to score in his second straight game. We saw glimpses of the poacher we know he is on Saturday night but he just isn’t getting the service without Graham Zusi playing.

Two scoreless games shouldn’t worry him too much, but it’s not what SKC need right now, as they haven’t won a game in five outings now, and Dwyer will need to get back to carrying the team going forward.

Highlighs via MLS on YouTube:

Should Samuel Eto’o make the move to MLS?

Samuel Eto’o has become a free agent following his contract expiring at Chelsea. The 33 year-old striker has been heavily linked with MLS since the turn of year after many assumed his contract would not be renewed at the West London club.

Eto’o has scored at every club he’s played for, including nine last term for Chelsea, and is set to play in the World Cup this summer for Cameroon.

But should he move to Major League Soccer, who would he best suit?

Assuming he would almost certainly demand a designated player spot, it rules out the LA Galaxy, who have been strongly linked with the veteran.

Galaxy have been linked with many key players who would require a designated player slot in the squad, and two of those positions are already filled by strikers, in Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.

DC united are another team that are supposedly interested in Eto’o, however they already have Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola as strike options and Eto’o would be an expensive acquisition in a position they are already strong in.

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There are obviously teams which need him more desperately, but I think he will delay the move until the New York City franchise starts up next season.

The new franchise enters Major League Soccer next season, in early 2015, and the striker will be able to earn the high wage that he would request with a move to NYCFC.

Until then I think his next move after the World Cup will be a temporary deal to Paris Saint-Germain, where his wife and children are currently living.

Eto’o is not opposed to moving to apparent ‘lesser’ leagues, as he made the move to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia just a few seasons ago.

The striker will bring bags of experience to MLS if he were to move, having won titles in Spain and Italy as well as having three UEFA Champions League winners’ medals.

His next move is likely to be his last big move, and with MLS growing substantially by the year, there is no reason why Eto’o shouldn’t further its development with a big move stateside.

Where do you see Samuel Eto’o playing next?

Takeaways from The Revs fifth Straight win as they beat DC United

New England Revolution recorded their fifth straight win on Saturday night, extending their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference to five points and look comfortable. There was a lot to take away from this game, they are as follows:

1. Patrick Mullins can play!

The 22 year-old rookie makes playing up front alone look easy, as he bagged his fourth goal in as many games.

He seems to thrive on scraps and brings people into attacks brilliantly. His hold up play is sublime and the counter-attacking style of the Revs suits him perfectly.

2. Lee Nguyen for MVP?

The midfielder single-handedly controls the tempo of the game and seems unstoppable on the ball.

The rest of the league has yet to shut him down, mainly down to his free-roaming style. With Andy Dorman sitting deeper, it allows Nguyen to advance and open up defenses.

He is already looking like the MVP with New England flying.

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3. Eddie Johnson has lost the plot.

EJ was sent off last night for a stupid reaction in which he kicked out at Kelyn Rowe.

This is the second time in three games the striker has been subject to frustration and as a result suspended, as he left his foot in on Montreal impact ‘keeper Troy Perkins just last week.

Johnson needs to clear his head while serving his suspension, and forget about the disappointment of the World Cup squad, as DC will need him this season.

4. Why was Fabian Espindola on the bench?

Despite coming on and scoring the equaliser, DC fans will be severely questioning Ben Olsen’s decision to bench him.

Espindola is DC’s top scorer this season with six goals, and was instrumental mid-week when they managed to record a 2-0 win against Houston Dynamo.

He may have been fatigued from that game, but would have surely been desperate to start again, as any striker would, and this could have changed the shape of the game.

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5. Can anyone stop the Revolution?

New England is a well-oiled machine, and seems to be optimising Jay Heap’s philosophy to great effect.

The counter-attack approach works so well, as the Revs invite teams onto them before exploding onto their opposition on turnovers.

It will take a lot to stop this outfit, with them set to continue this great run of five wins on the bounce, especially as they are not affected by the World Cup.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

What did we learn in DC United’s win against the Houston Dynamo?

Houston Dynamo visited DC United on Wednesday night and left with nothing but an injury to rookie Mark Sherrod as DC strolled to a 2-0 win. However, there a many things we can take from the game:

1. Giles Barnes is playing to deep for Dynamo.

The ex-Derby County winger is being deployed as a central midfielder as of late, and he is struggling with the defensive responsibilities assigned to him.

If the Dynamo wants to get the best out of Barnes they are going to have to play him in a more advanced role, and reduce the amount of his defensive duties.

You don’t keep your thoroughbred locked in the stables!

 

2. Dynamo are desperately missing Brad Davis.

Much of the reason why Barnes is playing in midfield is down to the loss of Davis, who is currently with the national team.

However, the experienced midfielder is widely expected to miss out on Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23- man squad for the World Cup, and so he should be back sooner rather than later.

The Dynamo midfield is missing their playmaker badly, and his set-pieces are irreplaceable.

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(Photo: Houston will be looking forward to the return of Brad Davis)

 

3. No Eddie Johnson, no problem.

Chris Rolfe deputized for the suspended Johnson on Wednesday night, in an advanced position, and he managed to score as well.

Filling-in to partner red-hot Fabian Espindola, Rolfe beat his man and fired past Tally Hall in textbook fashion.

Rolfe acts as a partner for Espindola rather than a target man like EJ, and it will be interesting to see how the trio play when Johnson comes back into the side.

 

4. Espindola is a touch of class.

I mentioned in the preview for this game that there was expectation on Espindola to perform, and he did not disappoint, grabbing the assist for Rolfe’s goal and scoring one himself.

He single-handedly inspired DC to victory by notching his fifth goal of the season.

He is arguably DC’s most important player as Eddie Johnson has yet to start firing on all cylinders.

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(Photo: Fabian Espindola is crucial for DC)

 

5. Bill Hamid has to be the next long-term USMNT ‘keeper.

The 23 year-old shot stopper showed again last night why he has such a great reputation. He was tested throughout the game by long-range efforts and looked commanding at all times.

With an upcoming age problem amongst the goalkeepers in the USMNT, the young Hamid has to be the first port of call, post Brazil. Brad Guzan is the youngest ‘keeper going to Brazil at 29.

Many will argue Hamid should be heading to Brazil, but playing more games for DC will only enhance his ability.

 

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Preview: D.C. United vs Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo travel to DC tonight hoping to continue a rich run of form against the Washington DC based club.

DC will be without the suspended Eddie Johnson who misses out through a retrospective ban for leaving his foot in on Troy Perkins when the Montreal Impact visited on Saturday night.

However, they still can call upon the talent of Fabian Espindola, who will have to improve his record of four goals in ten games tonight if DC has any chance of winning.

The Dynamo will be pleased with how their attack is shaping up, with the recent form of Mark Sherrod impressing, and the rookie has 2 goals in as many appearances. Will Bruin will play alongside Sherrod again and ex-Derby prospect Giles Barnes will be responsible for supplying the duo in the absence of Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia.

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(Photo: Mark Sherrod will hope to continue his fine run of performances of late)

It looks set to be an uphill battle for DC, however, having lost only one in their last six, form is certainly on the side of the Washington-based club.

The loss of Eddie Johnson will be huge, as ideally he would have freed up Espindola to roam. But with EJ missing, expect attentions to turn to Espindola, who will be tightly marked for most of the game.

Player to watch: Andrew Driver (Houston Dynamo)

English-born Driver is due a goal and it would be perfect timing for the ex-Hearts winger to score tonight. He was unlucky against the Galaxy as he saw an effort come off the post, and he will be hoping his luck changes tonight.

Key stat: Houston have won six out of the last seven meetings between the two.

Prediction: D.C United 0-1 Houston Dynamo – I expect a second clean sheet in a row for Tally Hall who has been impressive this season.