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Newcastle Scout Eyes Johnson, Altidore
Soccer By Ives, October 18th, 2007 3:45PM

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Kansas City Wizards striker Eddie Johnson had a "very interested" spectator over the weekend when the Wizards hosted the New York Red Bulls. According to soccer columnist Ives Galarcep, Newcastle United's chief scout attended the game to watch the 23-year-old U.S. international, whose contract with MLS expires at the end of the season. Galarcep's sources said the scout was there "to gauge the quality of play in Major League Soccer," but he insists (and this information might come from other sources -- it's unclear) that the Newcastle official had his eye trained on the Kansas City striker.

Why Johnson and not, say, Jozy Altidore? For one thing, Eddie is an established international who would have a far easier time obtaining one of those tricky British work permits than Altidore, who's yet to be called up to the senior national team. For another, he's a more mature player than young Jozy (who's still only 17), and he's having his best-ever season in MLS, with 15 goals and 6 assists to his name in just 23 games.

That said, Johnson's was ineffective against the Red Bulls, missing a PK in a 2-1 loss, and it was Altidore whom the scout spoke with after the match, not Johnson, according to Galarcep. Either one would make a smart addition to a Newcastle's notoriously injury-prone frontline, because both are young, and both are free agents at the end of the season. Altidore may not qualify for a work permit, however.

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