Will he start or won’t he?
Sounders FC fans, Santos Laguna coaches and casual observers across CONCACAF surely have that question in mind when it comes to newly acquired Eddie Johnson (right). The 27 year old got his first action for Seattle as a second-half substitute in last week’s first leg of a CCL quarterfinal and by all accounts is healthy and ready to go.
When coach Sigi Schmid was asked about Johnson’s role for Wednesday’s road leg, however, he wasn’t telling.
“We’ll see. That’s one we’re going to hold in our back pocket until game time on that decision,” said Schmid. “We expect Eddie to have a very good season for Seattle, and obviously he missed the majority of our preseason and our fitness (work) and all that. We want to bring him along in the appropriate way so that he can play all season and not suffer a setback.
“Right now, talking to (fitness coach Dave Tenney), he’s definitely getting fitter. We can see that in the numbers, etc. It’s a question of — we’ve got Wednesday, we’ve got Saturday — how many minutes do we want him to play in each of those? (That’s) something we’ll still discuss. We probably won’t make that final decision until Wednesday.”
Last week, when asked a similar question heading into the first leg, Schmid said Johnson’s experience could be particularly valuable in a starting role in Mexico.
The Sounders’ depth up front, particularly the emergence of David Estrada, keeps them from having to rush Johnson back. Schmid also noted that Sammy Ochoa is “is making very good strides right now, as well.”
“When you have options it makes it a little bit easier,” the coach said. “You can make decisions and you don’t have to put players into danger.”
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What do you think? Is it time to start Johnson?