Yeah, I’m going to talk about Eddie Johnson again. Why not? It seems to be the biggest topic of conversation this year, and since I’ve already written about 200,000 words on the subject in post-match comment threads this season, why not add a couple of hundred more?
Let me start off by saying this. I don’t like the guy really. When I say this, I have to specify that I don’t mean this in a footballing way. I like the way the guy plays, the goals he scores, and the wins that he delivers.
I also don’t mean that I don’t like the guy personally. I’ve never met him, and as such it would be impossible for me to state that I wouldn’t really enjoy sitting down and discussing Chaucer with the man over a nice beer (and shot of whiskey – his treat).
No, the guy I don’t like is for lack of a better term, his public persona. This is the Twitter EJ. This is the "pay me" EJ. This is the EJ who cuts a disgruntled figure on the pitch when times are tough, and then is suddenly proud as a peacock when the goals and points are flowing.
The reason that this public persona annoys me is that first and foremost, I love the Seattle Sounders. I greatly value loving the Seattle Sounders as a trait in other people that I meet, and the fan in me expects all of our players to feel this way as well.
However, I can and will accept that as much as I don’t like it, Seattle is going to have some players like EJ. EJ’s drive for winning trophies and scoring goals isn’t based on bringing glory to the club and its legacy. It’s based on his desire for personal success and accolades for his own legacy. And yeah, he wants money. He’d like to make more money at his job. It’s distasteful to talk about in public, and it definitely rankles that he chooses to express it on television and Twitter, but it’s not an unreasonable thing to ask for, especially when all of the people involved seem to agree that he’s earned it.
I think that the dissonance that some our fans seem to be having with EJ is that we’re taking it personally. It’s hurting our feelings. We feel slightly betrayed. I mean, we picked the man up when nobody else wanted to take a chance on him, paid him a salary most of us would love to make, and gave him a chance to revive his career in one of the best atmospheres in world soccer. His performances with the team have put him back in the national spotlight and given him the opportunity to represent our country at the World Cup, and nobody would have thought that was going to happen three years ago. So, why isn’t that enough for him?
I think it’s important to point out that EJ isn’t asking us personally to cheer more for him. He’s not begging us for more love and appreciation. In fact if he did, we’d gladly acquiesce. He’ll happily take what he’s earned on that account, and it’s understandable that he only wants the same financially as well.
He’s also not asking us for money. Although I do think it would be hilarious if we all threw some personal checks to him next time he scores a goal (small amounts, you know FOR HUMOR), but he isn’t trying to pick our pockets. Ticket prices aren’t going to sky rocket in order to finance a new contract for EJ. I think that he probably feels like he’s done his probationary period with the team and now he wants the job complete with the paycheck.
Don’t get me wrong, I concede to anyone that finds his behavior unprofessional and infuriating. I agree with you. I’m just choosing not to care. He’s probably not ever going to go down in club lore like Zach Scott or Roger Levesque, but I think that he’s going to be a big part of any success we have as a club for the next couple of seasons.
I wish I could love the man and not just the player. I wish that he would adopt an orphan every time he scored a goal, but let’s be honest, that would be a lot of orphans, and a pretty big stretch even at his salary. Maybe if we gave him a raise?
I saw the call for submissions a little late, but if the lovely people at SAH would like me to write some op-ed type stuff for the site, I wouldn’t say no or anything.