[MLS SPOTLIGHT] There was a lot of head-scratching following the announcement that the Seattle Sounders had traded for unsettled Eddie Johnson after the Montreal Impact selected the former U.S. international in Friday's allocation. Johnson's recent record isn't stellar, but there's a lot of upside to Johnson. At
his best, Johnson could help the Sounders challenge for an MLS title. Neither forward Mike Fucito nor midfielder Lamar
Neagle, a pair of overachievers dealt to the Impact, was going to do that.
Johnson finished out his contract at Fulham last summer and a move to Mexican club Puebla was aborted in January. He has made 41 appearances with 12 goals for the senior national team -- eight goals in nine World Cup qualifying appearances. He played four seasons for Dallas before joining Kansas City for two seasons, scoring 41 goals in 127 MLS appearances.
But he never settled in at Fulham and was loaned to clubs on three occasions -- Cardiff City, Aris and Preston North End -- during his three-plus seasons with the Cottagers.
Since leaving Fulham last summer and backing out of a deal to return to MLS, Johnson made news for all the wrong reasons. In August, his wife was accused of ramming her Jeep Cherokee into his rental car after seeing him at a Palm Coast, Fla., hotel with a woman, according to a deputy's report. Puebla brought Johnson into camp this winter but dropped him before its first game in the Torneo Clausura.
Johnson is still only 27, and there are few strikers in MLS with his pedigree. He could be the striker the Sounders have been lacking and team up with Fredy Montero to form one of the top attacks in MLS.
“My expectation is that Johnson and Montero can become a forward pairing that we will be able to put down on a weekly basis,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “It is a pairing that is going to give us a lot of joy by scoring a lot of goals. Good players catch on very quickly. It didn't take Mauro Rosales long. It didn't take Fredy Montero ... it's not going to take Eddie Johnson long."
With a reported salary of only $100,000 in 2012 and an option for 2013 at $150,000 -- a big drop from the salary he reportedly balked at last summer -- Johnson was a gamble too good to pass up.
Update: Johnson debuted for the Sounders Sunday in their 5-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University. He needed only 11 minutes to score his first goal but pulled up holding his hamstring and was replaced by Sammy Ochoa for precautionary reasons in the 29th minute.