To get this out of the way, as long as Eddie Johnson comes to play and gives it his all, there'll be 38k+ who have his back. But still...
This feels like an intelligent front office outsmarting itself. We took two valuable players - definite contributors, often starters - and traded them for a guy who has been bouncing around teams and leagues for the better part of a decade.
Color me skeptical.
I know EJ had some success in MLS awhile ago, and got some sporadic playing time for the Nats and in the Premier League. But his game was built almost exclusively on speed....six years ago. He was never known as a great finisher or talented poacher, he was simply an adequate soccer player with world-class speed, and now has nearly another decade's worth of wear and tear on his legs.
I get the idea behind this. If Johnson is still the player he was back in 2006, we have arguably the top forward tandem in the league. And his salary is surprisingly reasonable. But this trade flies in the face of the Sounders' philosophy to date. The organization has been about roster flexibility, competing in multiple competitions and having a strong team from 1-29.
But today we gave up two young, inexpensive assets - who also happened to be good players and good people - for a major question mark. Neagle and Fucito were only going to get better on the pitch. And while he's only a couple years older, it seems as likely as not that Johnson's prime has passed.
Is EJ definitely a starter over Ochoa? If he has lost a step will he be able to overcome that? Hasn't EJ had injury issues in the past, in less physical leagues at that? If he misses significant time, it's basically losing two players now. Looking at our other (and former) options, aren't Neagle and Estrada faster, Ochoa and Siveback taller, and Fucito stronger?
I'd love to be proven wrong, and Adrian & Co have earned significant leeway with their judgement to date. But I'm worried we'll look back on this as the moment we went from a SS and Cup contender to a team of unfulfilled potential.
Mr. Johnson, in all sincerity, welcome to Seattle. Sounders fans don't like losing Lamar and Fucito, but we're pulling for you all the same. As long as you play your heart out we'll support you every step of the way, regardless of what happens. Just know you have big shoes to fill.