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October 18, 2012 at 12:12 AM

A stop and chat with returning USMNT hero Eddie Johnson

johnson mug 2012.jpgReporters got a chance to catch up with Eddie Johnson after Wednesday’s game. The Sounders FC forward wasn’t available for the 0-0 tie against Real Salt Lake having just arrived from U.S. men’s national team duty the night before.

Johnson played nearly every minute in the two FIFA World Cup qualifiers, scoring two goals, including the late winner, Friday at Antigua & Barbuda and then recording an assist on the winning goal Tuesday versus Guatemala.

Here’s the transcript of the interview:

* * *

(How did the experience go for you on with the U.S. men’s national team?) “It was a great experience. Anytime you get to go in and represent your country in two important games, in two World Cup qualifiers where we had to get two good results… A) it was good to get called into the camp, B) it shows how confident the coach was in bringing me and the rest of the guys in to get the job done, and C) credit to all my teammates here and everyone in Seattle for giving me the opportunity to put myself in this position.”

(How many interview requests have you had in the past few days?) “Nah… the same.”

(Does anything feel different coming back after a week like that?) “I guess being in the camp and training and competing at that level for the time that we were together — I think missing that. Where you’re playing with what are considered the best players in your country and competing, pushing each other on a day-to-day basis, I missed that. That’s where every player wants to be at. That’s where every American player wants to be at. To be a part of that, it was special.”

(Did it raise your confidence?) “Nah, I think I got my confidence here. The coach bringing me here and sitting me down and telling me his expectations and what they’re trying to achieve here as a club and their goals of winning an MLS Cup. Bringing me and making me a part of that puzzle, that’s where I got my confidence. My coach having the confidence in me, putting me out there week in and week out, that’s where I got my confidence.

(Was the cost not being able to help your team tonight?) “If you read my tweets throughout the game, I thought the team conducted themselves really well today considering the way the game went — the red card. It’s part of soccer, and good teams adjust. We knew the importance of this game and trying to get something out of this game. We have goals as a team and we want to finish in a certain position come the end of the season. I thought the guys were tremendous today. You couldn’t ask for a better effort.”

(Do you think you’ll get called back in the Spring?) “Like I said before I got called into the camp, (if I’m) working hard here and scoring goals here and our team is winning, everything else is a bonus. I’m not even looking too far ahead. We’ve got a game on Sunday and I’m looking forward to it.”

(What can you tell us about your relationship with Clint Dempsey?) “Clint and I came on the national team around the same time. We were roommates from Day 1, and when I was at Fulham we became even closer. His family and my family, we used to always do family gatherings, and that three and a half years I was over there we got to know a lot about each other. And if you ask me, Who is your best friend in soccer?’, I’d said it’s Clint.”

(So it had to be nice to set him up on that goal…) “I told him I was going to find him. I’m serious. We were roommates, well we’re always roommates whenever I’m in camp, and I said, ‘Man, don’t worry. I know the pitch was crap in Antigua, but … next game if I get around my outside fullback, just make that run inside the 6-yard box.’ And I’m a forward. I know where a forward wants the ball at when they make runs in the box. That’s where I would want the ball; that’s the run I would make. I said, You get there. I’ll put the ball there,’ and that’s why we did our handshake when he scored. I told him, ‘I got you.'”

(Was it hard to adjust to a different position than you play here?) “I played it at Preston North End, when I was on loan at Preston — right midfield. I was pretty familiar with it. Then again, as a player you’re confident in yourself, but … I couldn’t help but be confident in myself when Jurgen Klinsman, who was a top player in his time, put me out wide. I had to be confident.”

(I bet you’d play goalkeeper if they asked you to…) “Bring it on. I’m athletic. (laughs)”


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