CHESTER, PA - OCTOBER 12: Eddie Johnson #9 of the United States gets tripped up by a sliding Mario Yepes #3 of Colombia at PPL Park on October 12, 2010 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Fans that have been pining for the Seattle Sounders to make a big move this offseason got their wish on Friday as the team traded Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to the Montreal Impact in exchange for former United States international Eddie Johnson. The move comes as a rather massive shock as both Fucito and Neagle were thought to be in the team's longterm plans. Fucito even seemed to have the inside track on the starting forward job alongside Fredy Montero.
"Eddie is a high quality striker who is a very good finisher," said Sounders technical director Chris Henderson, who coached Johnson at Kansas City. "We are very excited to have him join Sounders FC in our quest for another successful season."
Even if it hadn't been fan favorites Fucito and Neagle being traded, the acquisition of Johnson would have been shocking enough. Johnson was once one of the United States' most promising stars, but that was a lifetime ago in soccer terms. He has not scored a professional goal since 2010 when he was on loan to Greek club Aris and has not even played since last April when his contract with Fulham was not renewed.
The Sounders are clearly banking on the 27-year-old regaining his old form. Prior to leaving MLS after the 2007 season, he had scored 41 goals in 127 matches. His final year with the Kansas City Wizards, he had 15 goals and six assists in just 24 matches. He has also scored 12 international goals in 41 appearances with the United States national team, but he's made just one appearance since 2008. As recently as a couple months ago, he was cut by Puebla after just a couple days in training camp.
Johnson will surely have a mountain to climb in the eyes of fans. Not only were Fucito and Neagle among the team's most popular players, but they were also relatively young, cheap and productive. Fucito, 25, is coming off a year in which he scored six goals and had three assists in less than 1,600 all-competition minutes. Neagle, 24, scored seven goals and had two assists in just a tick over 1,700 all-competition minutes.
"It's always difficult to part ways with two quality individuals who have contributed greatly to the success of our first three years," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. "We saw this as a unique opportunity to bring a player in with World Cup and international experience who can help us in our quest to win the MLS Cup."