[MLS 2014 COUNTDOWN]Eddie Johnson finally got the raise he was seeking. D.C. United extended the U.S. national team forward's current contract and elevated his status to Designated Player. The move follows his offseason trade from Seattle, where he did not hide his dissatisfaction with his contract situation.
Johnson had returned to MLS in 2012 with the Sounders after four lackluster seasons in Europe at Fulham, plus loan spells at Cardiff City, Aris and Preston North End. Johnson finished out his contract at Fulham in June 2011 and a move to Mexican club Puebla was aborted in January 2012.
He wasn't in much of a position to bargain when it became clear MLS was his best option and his guaranteed salary was only $106,000 in 2012 and $156,000 in 2013, far less than he made in Europe or in his first stint in MLS when he was one of the few players to earn above what was the then-acceptable maximum.
But Johnson responded with 23 goals in two seasons for the Sounders and won his spot back on the national team with some big goals, including the winning goal in the 2-0 win over Mexico that clinched a berth at the 2014 World Cup. But his days at Seattle were already numbered as he showed his displeasure with management, celebrating the winning goal against Columbus 10 days earlier with a "pay me" celebration.
Seattle had already signed Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins to big deals to join Mauro Rosales as the third DP, so there was not a lot Seattle could do. When Oswaldo Alonsoreplaced Rosales as the third DP shortly after the end of the season, it was clear Johnson's future -- and opportunity for a big pay raise -- were elsewhere.
“Eddie is an elite striker who is in the prime of his career, and we are thrilled that he has made a commitment to D.C. United,” said D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper in announcement the contract extension. “We look forward to Eddie's contributions on and off the field.”
-- The Montreal Impact came to terms on a deal with three-MLS all-star defender Heath Pearce. After starting his career in Europe, the University of Portland product joined MLS in 2009 and has played 106 regular-season games in five seasons.
"Having played over 100 games in this league, his experience and soccer savvy will bring a lot to the team," said Impact sporting director Nick De Santis. "He is a natural left back, who will give us more depth on defense and who can contribute to the offense as well. Heath is highly motivated to get back to the level that saw him on the national team at one point in his career."
-- Chivas USA signed 23-year-old Argentine Leandro Barrera on loan from Argentinos Juniors. He gives the Goats a playmaker who likes to attack from the left wing. He joins fellow Argentines Agustin Pelletieriand Mauro Rosales in midfield.
“Leandro is a fast, left-footed player who gives us a lot of possibilities in the attack,” said Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera. “Though young, his experience, speed and his good technique are characteristics that are always welcome in this league.”
-- Seattle signed Ugandan international Michael Azira, who can play in midfield and at outside back. He spent the previous two seasons with the Charleston Battery of USL PRO.
-- Chicago waived Cameroonian youth Yazid Atouba, who made three appearances during the 2013 season after being taken in the SuperDraft.
-- Chivas USA waived 23-year-old defender Fejiro Okiomah, whom it had signed in the offseason from USL PRO's Charlotte Eagles.