Eddie Johnson was wearing the black and red of D.C. United as he spoke for about 10 minutes today about his departure from Seattle Sounders FC after two seasons as the club’s goals leader.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Johnson will face his old team for the first time as the Sounders and United meet in the Carolina Challenge Cup.
On switching teams: I think it’s something I’m going to have to get used to. The reality of the whole thing is I had a really great time my two years in Seattle. To leave from playing in from of 40-plus-something-thousand fans – some amazing fans there – that feeling and that experience doesn’t go away overnight. So it is something I am going to get used to. But in saying that, we know how professional sports are: One minute you’re here, one minute you’re there. So it’s the life of a professional athlete. You take the cards that you’re dealt with and you deal with them. But I’m excited with my new team, this new experience, working with coach Ben Olsen, and brining me on board at D.C. United as one of the guys that they’re trying to build this team around. So I’m delighted and honored to be here, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.
On if anyone is to blame for the way things worked out: I don’t think there was any bad stuff. Even the other day after my first game here in Charleston against the Houston Dynamo to see all the boys, to see coach Sigi, to see Schmezter, to see Dave Tenney and all those guys come up to me and give me a hug and stuff, it goes to show there wasn’t any tension or whatever. I just think Ozzie Alonso, he’s been at that club a long time. He was due a good payday for all his services and how well he performed consistently in that organization. And we added two really high profile strikers that were at really good money. So it was a difficult situation for me. But at the same time, there are a lot of plusses that comes from me and the Sounders. They got me for not a lot of money, I came there, I put the work in two years; and the other plusses I guess for me is I got a chance to get my career back on track and I got myself onto the national team. So I think on both sides it was a win-win situation the two years I was there.
On if he wishes United visited Seattle this season (they don’t): I wish I could have came back. My kids are still there; they live there. Seattle now for me is my off-season where I spend my time right now. You know my kids are my first priority, and everything after that is second. Like I said, some amazing fans there in Seattle. You know I do a lot of social media and I’ve built up a lot of fan base for myself. So to play in front of them one more time would mean the world to me to play in front of that crowd and experience what I used to get to experience on a week in and week in basis for the past two years.
On facing the Sounders tomorrow in the Carolina Challenge Cup: For me it’s like an intersquad game. I used to play against those guys for two years. We know what each’s like on the field. This will be the first time with me being on the other side of the line. But like I said, it’s a good group of guys, a great team, some good players, good defense, and I’m looking forward to competing and playing against those guys tomorrow. At the end of the day, it’s a game of soccer and I just want to go out there and enjoy it and compete and push those guys like I’ve been pushing them for the last two years.
On if he has a goal celebration in mind … just in case: Naw. If it’s in D.C. or we meet in the playoffs in Seattle, I don’t think I’d ever celebrate against the Sounders. Like I said, the fans have held me down and supported me these last two years, the organization gave me the opportunity to get my career back on track. There’s no animosity towards me. At the end of the day I just want to go out there and compete. And if for some reason I score a goal, you won’t see a celebration to me.
On if he hopes the next collective bargaining agreement unfolds in a way that would allow MLS teams to keep their talent together: At the end of the day it’s a business. MLS wants players in this league that are going to bring fans to the game and sell jerseys. I don’t think it’s not more what you do on the field nowadays, it’s who you are. And I can see that from a business standpoint, because we’re in a building phase and continuing to build this league and we’re on such a great pace right now. At the end of the day I was brought to D.C. for a reason. D.C. is aware of my situation, as well as MLS and my agent. And right now both parties have to do what’s best for both parties. Right now I’m a D.C. United player, I’m under contract by the league, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming game March 8 and doing the work on the field in D.C. and hopefully my play and us winning games takes care of itself.