The following was written by KA (not sure if he wants his name public).
Today is the day we find out the fate of Eddie Johnson. An independent panel will hear his work permit appeal and their decision will make or break a multi-million dollar transfer deal to Fulham. So what will they be basing that decision on?
· To consider whether the player is of the highest caliber, and
· To consider whether the player is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in the UK
Hmm, sounds like exactly the debate many an American soccer supporter has had in regards to the young Mr. Johnson. Perhaps no other player in recent years has provoked as much excitement and frustration all at once as the Wizards’ designated player. A second-round draft pick in 2001, his breakout came in late 2003 when he won the Golden Boot at the U-20 World Cup. He followed that performance with a 2004 MLS season in which he led the league in goals scored with 12. Earning a call-up to the USMNT, Johnson scored in his debut, a World Cup qualifier against El Salvador. Four days later, Johnson netted a hat trick in 17 minutes against Panama. All told, he scored seven goals in his first six MNT games and now sits in third place on the all-time goal scorers list for World Cup qualifiers.
But in MLS, EJ’s goal scoring declined in both 2005 (5 in 15 games for Dallas) and 2006 (2 in 18 games for KC). Some attributed it to a recurring toe injury and absences with the National Team, while others found fault in Eddie’s abilities and willingness to work. In many ways then, 2007 was a microcosm of Johnson’s young career (he’s 23). Though he finished with 15 goals and 6 assists in 27 games (good for team MVP and MLS Comeback Player of the Year), only three of those goals came in the Wizards last 16 games.
All of which brings about varying voices and disagreeing dissent when news hit of his transfer overseas. While it came as no surprise — previous attempts to sign with Benfica and Real Sociedad were rejected by KC/MLS – it leaves us as fans in a precarious position come today while we await word on his appeal’s outcome: Do we want EJ back in Wizards’ blue this season? Or would we rather cheer and/or jeer him from abroad?
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