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September 3, 2013 at 1:54 AM

Sounders’ GM, head coach express no issue over Eddie Johnson goal celebration

Screen grab from KONG-TV broadcast

Screen grab from KONG-TV broadcast

In what isn’t a common occurrence, a goal celebration was a popular topic of discussion after Sounders FC’s 1-0 road win Saturday in Columbus. Here is a previous post on the subject, as forward Eddie Johnson appeared to express displeasure over his contract situation after scoring what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

About 49.5 percent of fans of an informal poll on this blog felt it was a “big deal”, while 34.5 percent felt it was a “little deal” and the other 16 percent felt it was “no deal”.

It seemed enough to ask Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer and coach Sigi Schmid about it Monday, and here is what they said (it is worth noting that Johnson negotiated his current contract with MLS officials, not the Sounders, as he returned to the league as a U.S. national and through the allocation process):

*     *     *

ADRIAN HANAUER, general manager and part owner

(What did you think of Eddie Johnson’s goal celebration?) “I’ve said it before: Eddie is underpaid at this point, and we’ll address that behind closed doors. For me, as long as those sorts of things aren’t getting in the way of us winning a championship, I (couldn’t) care less. When it becomes a distraction to the team, then it’s an issue with me. But for now, we picked up a great win, Eddie was a huge part of it, he was great with his teammates, so for me it’s not an issue. And a little controversy, a little interesting flavor to some of our games isn’t always a bad thing.”

(Did you see some of the fan reaction to the celebration?) “Yeah, I’ve monitored it a little bit.”

(Was it surprising to you?) “No, not to me.”

(Did you feel his message was directed specifically to you?) “You know, Eddie’s a super-emotional guy, and so, no, I didn’t take it personally. Eddie and I have talked on multiple occasions. We have a good relationship, so to me it was nothing more than a little bit of emotion coming out. And again, Eddie has earned some more money, so we’ll work on that. He understands the salary cap issues and that it may not come as fast as he wants, but we’re working on it.”

(Do you feel the cap can work for next year giving him a raise and not having to make significant changes to the core?) “I don’t want to get into who’s coming, who’s going, but we’re working with Eddie to get him more money. … Our objective is to win championships. That means keeping as many good players around as possible.”

SIGI SCHMID, coach

(What did you think of Eddie Johnson’s goal celebration?) “Like I’ve said before, in this league and with the salary cap, you have players who are overpaid and you have players who are underpaid, and there is a dialogue going on with Eddie from our team. Obviously with the restrictions that we have and as we move forward into the future, hopefully there will be some agreement that will be able to be reached that will solve it. But he’s playing well. He is working hard for us. He was engaged in the game. It didn’t take away from his engagement in the game. Even when I subbed him out, he was fully committed to the team and he was as happy as anybody when we won. He was animated and fully involved in the game, and that’s what I’m looking for from a player. I need a player who’s committed to the team, who’s committed to winning games, which he is. We’re going to try to see what we can do, and hopefully something will be able to be worked out and we can help that situation. But other than that, unless it’s a distraction to the team, or I don’t think the player is putting his effort into the team, I’m not going to worry about it.”

(So you don’t think it’s a distraction to the players?) “No, no. The players know the situation. They respect Eddie as a player. Probably if you asked everybody on this team, they’d say they were underpaid — with maybe one or two exceptions. So it’s a matter of everybody is supportive of a guy in that situation.”

(Do you think he feeds off fans’ energy toward him?) “Every player finds different motivations that are there and everybody plays with something motivating them. Sometimes it’s their pride, it’s their ego, it’s a chip on their shoulder, to produce for their family, they want to score because they’re happy with the team and the situation they’re in. There are a lot of things that go on to motivate players, so for Eddie, what’s he got now? Three goals in his last four games or something like that? He’s scored some key goals for the national team, as well, and as long as he keeps playing well, that’s the most important thing. So whatever drives him I’m OK with, because right now he’s a pretty motivated, driven player.”

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