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October 15, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Salt Lake explains decision to fly Johnson back to Seattle, Sounders express gratitude

Real Salt Lake Logo.jpgAs noted earlier on the blog, Real Salt Lake will by flying Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson back to Seattle after the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifier versus Guatemala on Tuesday night.

RSL’s plan was originally just to fly its own players — midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando — here from the game in Kansas City, but then Johnson was added to the passenger list.

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid explained the situation after Monday’s practice.

“We figured if they had an extra seat, they might as well,” Schmid said with a smile. “It’s great for the clubs to cooperate like that. If we were the ones who had a plane there and were bringing Eddie, we’d bring their two guys, as well. I think that’s just good sportsmanship and fair play.”

So did MLS get involved?

“No, it’s just something I became aware of,” Schmid explained. “(USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann) had told me and he says, ‘I’ll ask (RSL coach Jason Kreis) if Eddie can go with them, as well. And then I communicated with Jason; we texted each other and everything got cleared.”

Kreis also talked about the situation today, as noted in stories on MLSsoccer.com and the website of The Salt Lake Tribune.

“We’re doing Seattle a big solid,” Kreis told reporters. “Hopefully, the good karma will come back to us. A host of people have had a discussion about it over the last day or so, and we decided to do what we think is the right thing.”

RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey also called it “the right thing to do” as quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune story.

Local reporters chatted with Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer after Monday’s practice about the situation. He was asked if he thought this resolution would happen in any other league.

“Probably not,” Hanauer said referencing MLS’s single-entity structure.

“Come gameday, we’re bitter rivals and competitors, but during the week we’re working together, trying to figure out how to grow the league together and lift all ships. … We have good relationships with almost every team, so the RSL ownership and management were nice enough to agree to this, and obviously we would do the same for them.”

That doesn’t mean the decision came easily.

“Your initial response is, ‘I don’t know if this is such a good idea, to be helping our opponent,'” Kreis told reporters as quoted in the previously linked stories. “But you have to believe they would do that same if they were in our shoes. Ultimately we want the best game possible, which means the best players available.”

Of course, Johnson is unlikely to play Wednesday versus RSL if he features in Tuesday’s qualifier versus Guatemala (and one would think a breakout performance in Friday’s game would indicate significant involvement). It should also be no surprise that Kreis was quoted as hoping for as many minutes for Johnson as possible.

Schmid said Johnson would mostly likely be on the bench if anything Wednesday, but he might not play at all to avoid the possibility of injury as the playoffs near. I’m sure you remember how that affected the Sounders last season when Mauro Rosales was out with the knee injury.

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