Kind of like everyone else has echoed. It’s a rather boring week around MLS as there are no games this weekend. With the US Mens National Team set to take the field tomorrow night it’s natural that the talk in Seattle start to revolve a bit around Eddie Johnson and his time there.
As it stands there is still quite a bit in the air with the roster and how the starting XI will look. There are a few speculative line-ups that I’ve seen could have Johnson up front as a target man as part of 4-3-3. Considering all the problems out wide with health and the lack of versatility. It would and very well could be the intentions of Klingsmen to stick EJ up front and move Dempsey out wide with him seeing that’s the position he’s been filling since his arrival to Tottenham.
But then again the other likely out come is that Johnson is used off the bench. It’s completely possibly considering the short turn around with Guatemala that considering the roster and the players that are in camp right now it’s very possible that the US takes an “all in” approach with Antigua and Barbuda and then they turn around against The Blue and White on Tuesday and play a more defensive game. It would be more consistent with the idea that there are currently 4 defensive minded midfielders in camp.
But, since this is specifically about EJ and how he would perform out on the pitch with the Mens National Team let’s talk about what could prevent him from being successful or what could help contribute to a successful World Cup qualifier campaign.
Eddie Johnson still has his speed and the ability to stretch defenders. It’s really what first put him on the radar across the states and beyond it’s boarders. He’s got flair to go with it and a superior touch that can lead to being an above average finisher at times. The problem is that most often he was overly dependent upon his touch and the ability blow past defenders. That too often lead to turning over the ball over in the attacking third.
Since his return to MLS we’ve all seen his superior positioning in the box against defenders and the new ability to head the ball for goals. It’s part of what makes such an interesting addition to the club. His ability to be an Ariel threat is something that the National Team doesn’t have right now. As pointed out by a few others his intense pace is better than many other forwards that are available in the pool.
The problem with Eddie is that most of his production is dependent upon the service that he receives. This becomes something of a problem when you consider the pieces that will be available for Jurgen Klinsmann. Very few present real ideal partners for Eddie in the way that we’ve seen him be successful. Graham Zusi, who I think will most certainly make an appearance, is one of the few that potentially could provide that, Clint Dempsey is another, Cherundolo who peppered shots down the line for Altidore last month and could prove some fun and dangerous moments and perhaps even Michael Bradley.
The problem is that many of the components on this team are great individual pieces, pretty successful on the defensive side, but limited success as a hole on the attack. Part of that is due to a number of factors not the least of which are injuries. But as a whole you have to wonder how Johnson will perform without Zusi or a Mauro Rosales of sorts.
They should have some sort of nice coupling of another forward either Terrence Boyd (who I believe was added after Shea and Donovan were injured) or more likely Herculez Gomez. Gomez could very well be a Fredy Montero and then some type partner-ship. Gomez does a lot of little things that frankly Montero doesn’t do at times and with the hustle and grit that he also brings a long could create extra chances that we don’t normally see.
There of course is even the chance that Johnson doesn’t see more than 10-40 minutes out on the pitch. Instead Klinsmann could elect to use the BoomBoom in a more sparing manner. This would be great news for Sigi Schmidt and company as his presence against Salt Lake would certainly be welcomed up front against a very tough defense.
For now we’ll just have to wait for the starting line-ups and allow pure conjecture to take hold. It’s what the internet is best at anyways.