Eddie Johnson officially re-joined the U.S. Men’s National Team, getting the call from coach Jurgen Klinsmann over the weekend as two Sounders teammates, Adam Johansson of Sweden and Mario Martinez of Honduras, also were called by their respective national teams for qualifying matches in the 2014 World Cup.
Since his debut in 2004, Johnson has 41 caps and 12 goals for the U.S. His last appearance came in a scoreless draw against Colombia Oct. 12, 2010, at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
Johansson, Johnson and Martinez will be with their national teams Oct. 16, making their availability for the Sounders’ next match against Real Salt Lake Oct. 17 at CenturyLink Field questionable.
Asked if he ever had doubts he would be called back to the the U.S. team, Johnson said, Id be lying if I said no. I think theres always doubt at some time in your career when things arent going well.”
But things are going well for Johnson, who has been a scoring star for the Sounders this season, including his 14th goal of the season Sunday in the 3-0 win over Portland.
“I think the biggest thing going on in my corner is having a coach of German background,” Johnson said, laughing, referring to the nationality of Klinsmann and the Sounders’ Sigi Schmid. “Sigi told me when I first arrived in Seattle that he had a good relationship with Jurgen. If I was doing my business, believing in everything they were trying to accomplish in Seattle and the team was winning, and I was scoring goals and my behavior was good, Jurgen would give me a chance.
“All that said, I just believe that hard work pays off. Ive been working very hard in Seattle. I couldnt ask for a better team to be playing with, a better group of players. My teammates, they push me week in and week out. Playing in front of 45,000 fans week in and week out, that pushed me to be better as a player and be a consistent player because we know if youre not doing well in Seattle, youll get abused.”
Klinsmann said he has talked several times with Schmid about Johnson, who had a reputation for immaturity.
I think Sigi has done a tremendous job with him,” Klinsmann said. “Eddie is back into that position because he worked very hard for it. If you watch his games and his drive, his hunger that he has, the way he chases defenders, and the way he creates for himself and his striking partners chances. The way he also finishes things off speaks for him.
“And hes not a newcomer. Hes part of that program now over the last 10 years or so. He also had difficult times. He struggled in Europe. Sigi found a way to get him back on track, and its exciting to see. We already played with that thought for the last camp, and I think this camp opened the door for him. Now were curious to see him in the middle of his old buddies. I think he really deserved that call.
Johnson, 28, will join for qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda Oct. 12 in St. John’s and against Guatemala Oct. 16 in Kansas City.
Johansson, 29, will join Sweden for a pair qualifiers against Faroe Islands Oct. 12 and against Germany Oct. 16 in Berlin. Johansson has 11 caps for Sweden, which is in Group C and won its first qualifying match against Kazakhstan, 2-0. Germany leads the group with wins in its first two matches.
Martinez, 23, will join Honduras for amatch against Panama Oct. 12 in Panama City, as well as a second match is against Canada Oct. 16 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Martinez has 19 caps for Honduras.
The U.S. is tied with Guatemala and Jamaica with seven points through four matches in CONCACAF’s Group A. The U.S. and Guatemala are even with six goals scored and four goals against.
Honduras is in CONCACAF’s Group C and tied with Canada for second with seven points, two points behind group leader Panama.
The Sounders, who drew 66,452 fans to CenturyLink Sunday night for their 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers, do not play again until meeting Real Salt Lake. The three points moved the Sounders (14-7-10, 52 points) from third to second in the Western Conference.
The Sounders also moved into first place in the Cascadia Cup standings with nine points, one ahead of Portland. The Timbers will win the Cascadia Cup if they defeat Vancouver Oct. 20. The Sounders will win if Portland loses that match.