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Mid-Day Musings: On Johnson, Cooper and Castillo

Eddie Johnson ( 

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Is Eddie Johnson ready to make a comeback?

No, the American striker hasn't been sidelined by injury, he has just managed to fall off the U.S. national team radar after having been on it for so many years, four years to be exact. His stock had tumbled to the point that there weren't even any real rumblings when he failed to be named to either the U.S. Confederations Cup or Gold Cup teams.

Perhaps the time out of the spotlight has done him some good.

Johnson is off to a flying start for Fulham during its pre-season tour, scoring goals and setting up goals. When you see video of him play these days you see a confident player, a smart player, someone who looks at ease.

It may not mean that Johnson sticks with Fulham, but it just might mean that wherever Johnson goes, he's ready to be the player so many have waited for him to be.

With the emergence of Charlie Davies, and continued development of Jozy Altidore, there isn't as much of a clamor for Johnson to live up to the promise he showed five years ago in World Cup qualifying, but it may be just as well that he doesn't have to face that pressure. He seemed to thrive during his loan deal to Cardiff City as he was forced to fight for playing time, but also battle out of the spotlight.

Having the summer to reflect and prepare for the upcoming season could do Johnson a world of good and get him in the right frame of mind to start challenging for a place on the 2010 World Cup team.

As frustrating a player as Johnson was to watch for so many years, the fact remains there are tools there, and he just might wind up living up to his potential after all.


Speaking of forward with potential, Kenny Cooper is in the rumor mill again, this time as a target for English club Bristol City. While the validity of that rumor is questionable, it can be said that after watching Cooper in this Gold Cup it is tough to argue for him staying in MLS.

Sure, there have only been flashes, and he hasn't had a ton of time aside from his start vs. Haiti, but what we've seen is a player who doesn't look as sharp as he did a year ago, someone who needs to move on to a bigger league where he can be tested and grow as a player.

If Cooper doesn't make a move soon then it will be tough to imagine him having a real chance at the 2010 World Cup.


If you happened to watch the SuperLiga semifinal between Santos Laguna and Tigres on Wednesday night you were able to catch a glimpse at a potential left back for the U.S. national team. Yes, Edgar Castillo was in the building and he didn't look bad at all.

Castillo's assist on Tigres' third goal was a quality pass and just one of a handful of good moments for the young defender, has to be taken seriously as a U.S. national team prospect. I have spoken to colleagues in the Mexican media who have described Castillo has a talented but immature player who let his success in the Mexican League get to his head. His failed move to Club America, coupled with his inability to break through with the Mexican national team is a series of events that appear to have humbled him.

That would be good news if true, for the U.S. team because there just aren't a bunch of quality left back options out there.

He did his part to try and win back American fans on Wednesday, setting up a goal to beat Mexican national team goalkeeper Osvaldo Sanchez. Anybody who can help make Sanchez look silly has to win some points with U.S. fans, no?


That's all for now. What do you think of Johnson's pre-season form for Fulham? Think he's ready to battle for a national team place? Are you hoping Cooper heads to England? Were you impressed with Castillo in SuperLiga action?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. EJ has the best shot at making the roster over Cooper and Casey. As someone pointed out, hes the best backup or contender to Davies as the speedy striker. Cooper and Casey would have to unseat Ching, which neither of them has shown they can do, at the international level, or in MLS (Please dont bring up Coopers goals last year as many of them were PKs he didnt earn himself and he played more games then Ching and had fewer assists).

  2. Ives – is Khano Smith’s contract now guaranteed for the rest of the season? PLEASE SAY NO.

    Is there still time to dump him, or are we stuck with him for the remainder of the year?

    Ummmmm where have you been? Smith is now playing in Croatia, made his debut today in Europa league qualifying.

    Posted by: afc | July 16, 2009 at 04:16 PM

    Huh? What the heck are you talking about?

  3. Castillo doesn’t have to apologize to anyone, much less US or Mexico fans.

    The kid was snubbed by the US system.

    He was told he wasn’t good enough.

    Mexico gave him a shot and he took it.

    He’s already said that his heart has always been with the US.

    His father was the one who contacted the Mexican federation and recently also took it upon himself to contact the USSF.

    It’s quite clear Castillo doesn’t know how to make his own decisions and relies on his father to guide him through the process of being a dual citizen.

    If people are so willing to give Jones a shot without questioning his motives for wanting to play for the US, which are quite obvious since he wants to play in a World Cup and that wasn’t going to happen with Germany, then they should apply the same treatment to Castillo. A player that has always wanted to play for the US.

  4. I agree with Ives that the time out of the spotlight may have helped Eddie regain focus, maybe even hunger and desire. Wherever Eddie goes, I hope he finds success. He has the speed, skill and power to be a successful striker. The key for him has always been his head. A confident Eddie is a pretty good player, and I’d definitely like to see that again, whether with Fulham or with another club.

  5. EJ is rubbish we all know that, Cooper rubbish we all know that, watching ed johnson play was worse than a trip to the dentist and Cooper just seems like an SOB with little talent (his Gold Cup was not good), but I guess both of them should be mentioned since Conor casey is (also terrible) at least EJ is fast


    This doesn’t really sound as if the deal for Cooper is close. Would like to see him in the Championship league – I think it would make him a much stronger player. I also think Edie needs to be loaned out to the Championship and played in the starting 11. I think he is progressing but Fulham is playing Europe this year and may get Crouch and with Dempsey and Johnson, there isn’t going to be much playing time there for EJ. Remember, he had a tough time cracking the lineup for Cardiff City so it would be better to have him in a mid-table Championship team where he could get solid playing time rather than the top 4 or 5 teams who are comparable to the lower level EPL teams.

  7. I’m very happy for Eddie. I’ve always liked him. Remember his 5 goal game ages ago? But mentally he never got it.

    He is naturally gifted. I hope he can make it into the January camp next year and get back onto the squad.

  8. 1 goal and 2 assists for EJ in 3,45 minute apperances isn’t bad. I know its pre-season and a lot of people say it doesn’t count but its building EJ’s confidence. He thrives when he is confident. He worked well with Nevland against Perth. Hopefully EJ sees some playing time against Bournemouth on Tuesday.

  9. Ives – is Khano Smith’s contract now guaranteed for the rest of the season? PLEASE SAY NO.

    Is there still time to dump him, or are we stuck with him for the remainder of the year?

    Ummmmm where have you been? Smith is now playing in Croatia, made his debut today in Europa league qualifying.

  10. I want an official apology from Castillo to USSF, the US players, and to us fans for his comments about never playing for the USA.

    If he does, then it shows that he has matured a bit by tossing aside his pride. Only then, would i support him.

  11. hes only 25?? wow ya give him another shot. if confidence is the issue and fulham doesnt work out in a year or two he could be a great add for philly or dallas

  12. I figure there are 4 forward spots available for South Africa ’10. I think three of them are locked up [pending health, which with Ching is always a concern]:

    1) Jozy Altidore
    2) Charlie Davies
    3) Brian Ching

    So who is our 4th forward on the roster?

    You’ve got Dempsey and Donovan, who can both play well up top if called upon. That helps give some flexibility, though I count both as mids for the official roster composition.

    I think the following people are in the mix for that 4th forward spot:

    a. Conor Casey
    b. Kenny Cooper
    c. Freddy Adu [I actually think Forward is the only spot where he has a chance in ’10; don’t see him making it as a mid]
    d. Davy Arnaud
    e. Eddie Johnson

    Out of those five, I could see Eddie making a push. Personally, I’m still too soured by his many, many, many, many chances to prove he’s not a little girl without proving he’s not a little girl.

    But his talent has always been there, and if he’s flourishing in England, it makes you wonder.

    It’s not like any of the other guys are without question marks.

    Theoretically, if you take Jozy and Ching, they’re similar players [kind of]. Meaning, they’re bigger, target-ish forwards.

    Davies is obviously a speed guy. So, if you want one more speed guy to back up Davies, Johnson is more that player than any of the other options.

    Casey and Cooper are obviously bigger options.

    Adu and Arnaud are both somewhere in between.

    Adu functions best [I think] as a withdrawn forward, facing the goal.

    Arnaud seems almost like more of a junk guy, though Ching is also a junk guy.

    So I don’t know… I guess all I’m saying is that, where the name of Eddie Johnson still sends pain down my spine because of all his lame efforts, I can see how it begins to make sense to start giving him more looks.

    In theory, Altidore, Davies, Ching, and Johnson could give you your best four, most complete range of options.

    But only if Eddie stops sucking in national games.

  13. Eddie Johnson:Good to hear great things are starting to happen. As long as he plays 3 times harder than anyone in Fulham, he should win a spot. Show them that American competive heart we have EJ!

    Cooper: Bristol? Are you sure is not the the oil Bristol company soccer team? I will say this one more time, please Mr.Cooper get a dual citizenship a play for the Guatemala team or any other team for that matter, just not ours!!

    Castillo: He just has to come out and sweat the USNMT and say how much he wants to play for us,.. than maybe I’ll think about accepting him in the USMNT.

    We do have AJ Delacruz who can play the left back position! We can make it happen.

  14. Here’s hoping that EJ and Altidore finally get a full season of matches. I don’t mind if they both get loaned to their respective 2nd divisions, as long as they get on the field every Saturday. And Davies, well just keep on flying man, keep on flying!

    On the other hand, for goodness sake get Cooper out of Dallas!

  15. KCB- no worries, we have plenty of forwards to get frustrated with presently, heck we just got a new.

    “he’s a limited player who overachieves with pure hustle and focus when he isn’t experiencing one of his multiple-year long crises of confidence. ”

    lol, pure hustle and focus? pure athletic ability maybe, but hustle and focus were never words I would have used to describe EJ when he was last in the MLS

  16. Eddie really is different right now…this is not the same old story…he has actually learned thinking stuff…not tools stuff which he has…

    His touch has also improved for whomever said it was iron…both assists to Erik Nevland yesterday were top drawer stuff…

  17. I still don’t understand why people view Eddie Johnson as a talented player who underachieves. Seems to me it’s quite the opposite: he’s a limited player who overachieves with pure hustle and focus when he isn’t experiencing one of his multiple-year long crises of confidence.

  18. “As frustrating a player as Johnson was to watch for so many years, the fact remains there are tools there, and he just might wind up living up to his potential after all.”

    As a KC supporter, this sums up how I feel about him, especially during his time in KC. He was the best and worst player on the 2007 Kansas City squad. I would catch myself yelling things like “What the f*** Johnson!” “Run you lazy a**hole!” and then the next minute I’m singing his praises for an amazing game winning goal.

    Maybe he’s turned the corner, maybe not. But truth be told, it is only pre-season.

  19. Always had hoped for the best for Johnson. Hopefully he can continue his run of form. Then maybe he will deserve a new callup by the national team.

    What is the next step for the US to get Castillo in the US national team pool?

  20. Ives – is Khano Smith’s contract now guaranteed for the rest of the season? PLEASE SAY NO.

    Is there still time to dump him, or are we stuck with him for the remainder of the year?

  21. I say bring in castillo, give torres a shot, marshall is a surprise and i think he will be good for us.

    I’ve always liked eddie, but he still has to prove he belongs by getting more pt and producing.

    Cooper… pobre vato!

  22. I know a lot of people, especially myself, are harsh on Kenny, but after the season he had in the MLS in 2008 it was time for a move, and he didn’t get it. The problem for me is that MLS screws up so many great transfer possibilities. Had Sacha Kljestan gone to Europe, there wouldn’t be people who want him off the roster. He could have been such a great player in the SPL but the transfer didn’t work out because all of a sudden, MLS think that since they turned down Milans offer, they can turn down anyone and ask for more. It’s stifling some of our players.

  23. I hope Eddie can become/return to be a quality player over the next few years. He is not old by any standard at 25 so he still has two WC cycles left in him. Just hope it works out becuase what the US lacks is bench guys that are feared or at least respected when they come on to the pitch. I hope he stays at Fulham becuase Roy Hodgson is a really good manager it seems like. He gets the best out of people in my opinion.

    Cooper and Castillo are in the same boat for me. Potential. But again playing (Castillo) time and improvement in competition (Cooper) is needed. These are guys for 2014 in reality.

    Just hope it works out. We have other guys around the world that I am looking for in 2014. Freddy (might be 2010), Szetela, Diskerud, Tracy, Lichaj, J Jeffrey, Rodgers, Cronin, Pontius, Omar Gonzalez, Torres, Sean Franklin, Anthony Wallace, Brek Shea and etc… That with playing time and the right moves will be very interesting to watch in the coming years.

  24. A lot of the recent commentary on EJ (none here, today) is inaccurately negative. At the end of last season he was contributing and came on regularly as a second half sub. I know poaching a couple of goals and playing 20′ a game in the Championship does not an EPL roster spot make, but the idea that he was poor for Cardiff last year is wrong.

  25. Weve seen thid EJ movie before. He looks sharp hes making a comeback..than DOH!!!

    He has 1 good season for every 4 bad ones it seems.

    Preseason means crap. Landon looked good in preseason for bayern Munich, Spector for Man U, Jozy in Villareal all to avail to naught whence the real competition started.

  26. Just like everyone, I would love EJ to catch fire. But I really, really, really have my doubts. There clearly is a completely up-for-grabs forward spot on the WC roster though.

  27. Castillo looked bad early on but was one of the better players later in the game. Santos’ Carlos Darwin Quintero got the better of him in the 1st half including getting open for a goal.

    In the 2nd half Edgar Castillo had a nice length of the field run which finished in a low crossed shot that was just wide. Then with a few minutes remaining he sent in the cross / pass that put Itamar Batista in 1v1 for the clinching counterattack goal.

    The game illustrated Castillo’s strengths and weaknesses. He usually plays high up the field and is a good fast attacking left sided player a la Damarcus Beasley. He’s not as good as a stay at home defender in the Carlos Bocanegra role. I like Castillo and would like to see him included in the US team if that’s what he really wants. But he still would leave Bob Bradley choosing whether he wants offense or defense out of that left fullback position.

  28. Kenny Cooper – From the Bristol paper: “Cooper is a powerful and aggressive player, who likes to drift wide and is adept at holding the ball up”

    Is that true? I don’t agree with any part of that statement. Ok..when with Dallas he is aggressive.

    Eddie Johnson – is there really anyone out there that wouldn’t be thrilled for him to reach his potential? I would be stoked for him to find himself back in the mix. However, he’s going to have to really improve and do it consistantly for me to be ready for that to happen. C’mon Eddie, make it happen.

    The way I look at it there is one spot at forward open for 2010 (After Altidore, Davies and Ching). Cooper and Johnson have as good a shot to claim it as anyone but both have a lot to prove.

  29. Great news about EJ. He has talent and if he’s confident he can do some good things. If he has a good start to the season, I can easily see Bradley giving him more chances.

    I agree that Cooper needs to go. Aside from Dallas being a sink-hole right now, Cooper has proven all he can in MLS and his game has plateaued. I just hope he goes someplace where he can get consistent service and where they emphasize to him the importance of playing like he’s 6-3.

    Castillo has loads of skill and pace. No doubt about that. His passing and comfort on the ball is was ahead of of Bornstein and Pearce. He made some mistakes defensively last night but he also showed some potential.

    I saw nothing from him last night that suggested Bradley shouldn’t give him a chance. And if he comes in humble and with a lot to prove, even better.

  30. Always believed in Eddie he’s a tough guy, who’s been through a lot in his life. And I always will believe in him. A good year and he should still make ’10 U.S WC Roster. Has God given Talent

  31. Indeed, Castillo didn’t look bad. What was sad was what Telefutura’s sideline guy, Fernando Schwartz, had to report.

    Apparently there were some Mexican fans who were calling Castillo a “traitor”.

    Sad, really sad.

  32. What exactly has Kenny Cooper done outside of MLS that would suggest he should even be in consideration for a World Cup roster spot? This guy is Taylor Twellman 2.0… a pure suckers bet.

  33. GAM will still have an iron touch regardless of the attitude. He’s a poacher with speed, so maybe if EJ hustles, he can be a replacement for Altidore if Jozy’s still not getting regular playing time and is walking around by the 50th minute in games when 2010 summer rolls around.

  34. Don’t call it a comeback… but G.A.M. is back on the scene.

    I still think with EJ in the picture we’ve got a solid set of 4 forwards to take with us to the WC. Dempsey and Altidore as the targets and Charlie and Eddie as the supporters (if we insist on keeping Demps as a SMF then add Ching as Jozy’s backup).

    It’s also worth noting that it would help EJ’s stock tremendously, perhaps elevating him above Charlie Davies, if he could break into the Fulham first team because it would mean regular minutes with an international teammate.

  35. I’m all for making Sanchez look stupid. Doesn’t necessarily mean I want that guy on my team. If Castillo is serious about being a USMNT player, I want him to come out with a serious and sobering public statement on how much he wants to play for the US, and not just on how he wants to play for whatever national team will give him a spot on the squad. Would he have switched if he could play for Mexico? Who knows. I would like to hear it from him, tho.

    (Yes, I know that Jones switched in large part b/c he couldn’t break thru the German lineup…)

  36. But, he’s never…ever looked as confident, nor worked as hard, as he has since the last couple months of his loan spell at Cardiff. He’s 25 and possesses the most God-given talent of any USMNT player. I’ve never been a fan b/c of his attitude, but Roy Hodgson works wonders and Edward Johnson will come good.

  37. Never been any question about Eddie’s tools. It’s just his attitude that sucks. I won’t be holding my breath, this is about the third wave of ‘he learned his lesson and is finally living up to his potential’. Rearely has it lasted a full season let alone more than one.


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