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July 31, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Catching up with Eddie Johnson upon his return from the national team

johnson mug 2013Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson was back in training with the team Wednesday after being called up by the U.S. men’s national team midway through a CONCACAF Gold Cup winning run.

Here is a transcript of his conversation with reporters:

*     *     *

(How was your time with the national team?) “It was good. It was well worth the time spent away. I’m delighted just to be a part of the team and coming into the team and playing a role in helping the team win, so it was good. Anytime you get a chance to win something and be a part of something special, it’s something no one can take from you and it’s a legacy you leave behind that you were a part of.”

(What did you do with your medal?) “Took it back to Florida. My mom wanted it, and she deserves it, so let her display it at her house. She’s a proud mom, I guess.”

(How did that group differ from the group for World Cup qualifying?) “I think it’s the same. A lot more of the players that were in this Gold Cup tournament were pretty much the guys that were in January camp. It’s just the same message within the qualifying team and the Gold Cup team that the coach is trying to establish — the certain style of play, what he wants out of us as players. We’re all on board with what he’s trying to do within the national team. I think a lot of players did themselves justice in the tournament.”

(Did you talk to Klinsmann or pick up any vibe on your place within the team going forward?) “Nah, each camp I go in and just try and get better and better as a player. I try and find myself within the team and take advantage of every opportunity. I think if I keep doing what I’m doing, I should be pretty fine.”

(Ever score a goal as quick as you did against El Salvador?) “No, but it was something that was pretty special to be a part of. And I think all of my goals on the national team, Landon Donovan has assisted on them. We kind of have a good relationship and good understanding with each other on the national team.”

(What’s the competition like on the team right now?) “I mean the team is fine. I think it’s 10 games unbeaten? The guys that were in the qualification round, they were phenomenal and the guys in the Gold Cup tournament were phenomenal. I leave that up for your guys to answer. Two good teams. Our national team pool is deep; it’s got a lot of good players. We showed in the Gold Cup what the domestic players here and the guys that are playing in the Mexican league and the Scandinavian leagues, what we can bring to the national team. It’s good to have a deep pool, and at the end of the day it’s a difficult job for the coaches to make a selection, and that’s a good sign about the direction soccer is going in this country.”

(What did winning the Gold Cup mean within the locker room?) “It meant a lot. I think Landon said it best: For a lot of the younger guys, I’m one of the veteran guys that was on the team for that Gold Cup, and anytime you can look around and see the excitement on the young guys faces that haven’t really won anything, that’s pretty special to me. Just reiterating what he said. I think he said it right.”

(Were you expecting the call after you got back from World Cup qualifying?) “Nah, not at all. I think the El Salvador game was on a Sunday. I’m not sure, but I think it was three days before the game I got a call at 10:30 at night from Sigi saying I was going into camp. I was like, ‘Man, kind of sucks,’ because our team, we weren’t in a good run of form with all the injuries. I had put myself in a difficult position, me not finding the net for numerous games, so it was difficult, but anytime you get a chance to go in and play for your country, you cant turn it down. I knew leaving this team and going into camp I wanted to do myself justice as far as making sure I’m still valued here when I go into this camp and put myself in a good position in trying to make a spot on the 2014 World Cup roster.”

(Klinsmann had said on that he wants to see consistency out of you with the Sounders. What do you take back from your time with the national team?) “Well, he didn’t say that to me yet, so when he says that to me… I don’t read the paper or anything, so my last conversation with him, I wasn’t told that. What I do want to take back from the national team is what it feels like to be in a locker room full of guys that are willing to battle and fight for each other, everyone putting their egos aside and everyone on board with what we’re trying to accomplish in this organization. I think for me it was good to get away because it was a bit frustrating for me in previous games, so to get in the locker room and get that fight and that hunger and that desire and that commitment back and that winning mentality, I want to bring that back from the national team here in Seattle.”

(Does the Sounders locker room feel that way?) “We know how it is here. There are a lot of expectations here. There’s a lot of pressure. You lose one game and sometimes it’s like the end of the world here. We haven’t had the most consistent season, but we’re not doing bad as a team. I think we’re still in good form, good shape, and you know how it is. When you aren’t winning, no one’s happy. But when you’re winning, everyone is happy. It’s good to see the guys get two good results when I was gone, because before that guys heads were pretty down. Whatever my role is, just like it was with the national team came into the team, if it’s coming off the bench, if it’s starting, I’m looking forward to whatever I have to do here.”

(Is it a natural transition when it comes to translating success with the national team to the Sounders?) “I think just around the national team you’re around the best players in your country. It’s different here. You’re playing with better players — that’s the reality of it. We all know that. You guys know that. You get the balls at certain times when you make those runs and you get that right service. Those are the best players in our country. So it’s me being more patient when I’m here, because I’m not going to say every ball I get on the field is perfect. So it’s me being patient and believing in the players that are around me. Eventually, at the end of the day, it’s me being confident in myself in front of goal. I’m not worried. The goals will come. It’s just a matter of time.”

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