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November 5, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Eddie Johnson says he’s playing Thursday: “I’ve come too far to not be a part of this special thing we’ve got going on as a team.”

johnson mug 2012.jpgReporters got a chance to catch up with Eddie Johnson after Monday’s practice. The Sounders FC forward has returned to training and looks set to be available for Thursday’s second leg against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinals.

Here is the transcript of the group interview:

* * *

(How are you feeling?) “I’m feeling good. It’s good to get back out to training, running around and playing with the guys. I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to the game, an important game for us. We know the importance of it. We’ve worked hard all year, set goals for these moments as a team, and we’re looking forward to the game.”

(So you’ll be out there Thursday?) “For sure. I’ve come too far to not be a part of this special thing we’ve got going on as a team. We know how much it means to our fans and our organization in getting to the next round. It’s not going to be easy. We’ve had our ups and downs as a team, we’ve overcome adversity midway through the season, and it’s been good to see the team gel.”

(Does seeing all the chances created Friday add to your motivation to get back?) “It was good to watch from the start of the whistle to the end of the game, the desire, the commitment, the effort that we put in as a team. You work that hard for 90 minutes plus, you create a lot of chances, but you still don’t have anything to show for it. We saw the guys and how down they were after the game, because we knew we had a lot of good opportunities, and on a good day those opportunities go our way. The good thing is that we’re creating opportunities and guys are hungry and getting in spots in the box to get on the end of things. Hopefully we can carry that in the second leg at Real Salt Lake.”

(What’d you think of RSL’s goalkeeping performance?) “Rimando, he’s proven year in and year out he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the league. He’s a great goalkeeper, but no one’s (invincible), so we’ve got to go into the game with a ton of confidence — us forwards or us attacking guys — that we know it’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to nick a goal. It’s playoff time; you’ve got to put away your opportunities. Goals change games, and I’m glad to be a part of this second game. It was frustrating not being a part of the first game, but like I said, I’ve come a long ways, put a lot of hard work into what we’re trying to accomplish here, and looking forward to the game.”

(Were you always sure you’d play in one of these games or did you fear that your season might be over?) “There’s always doubt. It was sort of the same symptoms that I had in preseason when I joined the team in Florida. The smart thing was that I knew we were already in the playoffs, so I didn’t have to play hero. I felt something. I knew it wasn’t right. I was uncomfortable, so I came out, and my body’s always responded from injuries really fast. That MRI didn’t show anything. Like I’ve said, we got good trainers, a great strengthening coach in Dave Tenney as far as recovery-wise, what to do and what not to do, and how do I push myself so I can still stay sharp and prepare myself to make a contribution to the second leg? We’re all confident here as a team and I’m happy being back out here and training with the guys. It was pretty frustrating last week, but it’s a goal for me, so I’m looking forward to it.”

(We heard you were close to being available Friday. How’d you feel then and how’d you feel about not playing?) “On Friday, I felt good, but with these tweaks — and I wouldn’t even say tweak — these uncomfortable feelings you have in your hamstring due to all the games I’ve been playing lately and traveling, playing here in Seattle and with the national team, it was just a sign that my body was fatigued. If it was up to me, I wanted to play, but Sigi and the strengthening coach and the trainers and the doc thought it was more important that I push for the second game because we didn’t want to set myself back when we knew we had a potential Game 2. Like I said, it was a good result for the team. A lot of guys showed that hunger, and when their names called upon, they can go and do a good job. It was fun to watch but at the same time frustrating not to be out there on the field with the guys.”


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