Jeremiah Oshan, writing for MLSSoccer.com (away from his usual home here), is reporting that the Sounders are shopping USA national team forward Eddie Johnson around the league. The 29-year-old has completely remade himself over his two years in Seattle, adding a powerful aerial game and re-emerging on the international front.
Seattle surely doesn't want to lose him, but Johnson has made his dissatisfaction with his contract very public indeed with this goal celebration:
What's certain is that EJ does deserve a better deal - his $150,000 contract is paltry for a proven goal-scorer, and he has led Seattle in scoring the last two seasons without taking penalty kicks. The Sounders simply don't have the cap room to accomodate Johnson's desire. Which leads us to our inquiry - should the Fire pursue a deal for EJ?
The case for EJ
Eddie Johnson's career was at a standstill when he finally came back to MLS. You can count me among the people who thought Seattle was getting fleeced when they shipped Lamar Neagle and someone else to Montreal for EJ's rights. But Eddie knew something we did not - all those years grinding away in England, Wales and Greece had taught him how to actually play football. Gone was the all speed, no clue EJ whose reputation was based upon torching terrible Caribbean defenses; in his place was a guy who knew how to hold the ball, who made strong runs, and who had learned how to finish with his head.
Now, the Fire already have a target forward on the roster, in Juan Luis Anangono, and the nature of their games makes it likely that they'd struggle to play together. But EJ is, right now, what CF97 hopes Anangono will become - the point of the spear, a guy who can hold the ball up or beat a centerback for pace. And Chicago should have the cap room to accomodate EJ's salary requests, especially if, as expected, the Fire do not exercise their option on Egidio Arevalo Rios.
The case against EJ
Longtime USA fans can probably recite the case against EJ immediately after being awakened from a deep sleep: He's a head case. He's a locker room cancer. He's more athlete than footballer. He's unprofessional. Et cetera, et cetera. Plus, who on our roster would Seattle want in exchange? Best case scenario, they want a draft pick and allocation money; worst case, they're asking for a starter to part with a starter.
I'm curious how y'all feel about this. Would you want EJ at all? At what cap number? And who or what would you be willing to part with to make it happen?