Here’s some of what Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer had to say today about forward Eddie Johnson’s “pay me” goal celebration after scoring the game-winner Saturday in a 1-0 win at Columbus:
“I’ve said it before: Eddie is underpaid at this point, and we’ll address that behind closed doors. For me as long as those sorts of things aren’t getting in the way of us winning a championship, I could really care less. When it becomes a distraction to the team, then it’s an issue with me. But for now, we picked up a great win, Eddie was a huge part of it, he was great with his teammates, so for me it’s not an issue. A little controversy, a little interesting flavor to some of our games isn’t always a bad thing.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Johnson hasn’t been a distraction and has been giving his all in games.
Johnson makes $156,333 in guaranteed compensation this season, a figure that has been dwarfed by recent designated player Clint Dempsey ($5 million) and Martins ($1.7 million).
More from Hanauer:
On if he took the celebration as aimed at him: You know, Eddie’s a super-emotional guy. And so, no, I didn’t take it personally. Eddie and I have talked on multiple occasions. We have a good relationship, so to me it was nothing more than a little bit of emotion coming out. Again, Eddie has earned some more money, so we’ll work on that. He understands the salary cap issues. It may not come as fast as he wants, but we’re working on it.
On if Johnson can get his money without gutting the core of the team: I don’t want to get into who’s coming, who’s going. We’re working with Eddie to get him more money. … Our objective is to win championships. That means keeping as many good players around as possible.
Here’s some from coach Sigi Schmid:
In this league, with the salary cap, you’ve got players who are overpaid and underpaid. There’s a dialogue going on with Eddie from our team. Obviously with the restrictions that we have and as we move forward into the future hopefully they’ll be some agreement that will be able to be reached that will solve it. But he’s playing well, he’s working hard for us, he was engaged in the game. It didn’t take away from his engagement in the game. Even when I subbed him out he was fully committed to the team and he was as happy as anybody when we won. He was animated and fully involved in the game, and that’s what I’m looking for in a player. I need a player who’s committed to the team, who’s committed to winning games, which he is. We’re going to try to see what we can do, and hopefully something’s going to be able to be worked out and we can help that situation. But other than that, unless it’s a distraction to the team, or I don’t think the player is putting effort into the team, I’m not going to worry about it.
On possible team distaction: The players know the situation. They respect Eddie as a player. Probably if you asked everybody on this team they’d say they’re underpaid with maybe one or two exceptions.