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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. JIM P,

    Europe was and remains the king in football because, overall, it is where a skilled player can make the most money on a consistent basis. The level of exposure a good player gets can then be parlayed into a lucrative career once the playing days are over.

    If the Brazilian and Argentinean leagues paid the sort of wages and had the money and stability of the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga etc. why would they ever leave home to play in Moscow for one example? Follow the money. It’s an old story.

    By the way the guys you list as failures in Europe, there is no guarantee they would not have run into problems here as well. Clint Mathis was a head case, Convey lost his job due to long-term injury. Feilhaber was also hurt but there were many reports of him being a head case and clashing with managers. Parkhurst is apparently doing fine over there but it may be he was never really suited for the USMNT. Davies is the sort who needs to be pushed and I don’t believe he would have been pushed in the MLS. EJ may now just be starting to understand that he has to work to live. You should play where you will do the best all around for yourself; not because everyone else thinks you should “better” yourself for the national team.

    Also don’t take the Confed Cup that seriously because the Europeans sure don’t. It’s also worth remembering that the World Cup is usually won by a team from that part of the world, Brazil always being the main exception.

  2. I’m sure this comment could get a stir from a lot of posters but I have not seen enough evidence to conclude that going to Europe improves your game. It works for some it does not work for others. For every player that supposedly bombed in Europe (Donovan, Mathis, etc . . . this list goes on) there are players whose game really suffered for going there (i.e. Feilhaber, Szetela, Parkhurst, Convey, Altidore). When a player doesn’t make it in Europe this assumption is that Europe is superior. By that logic Lothar Mattheus couldn’t cut it in the MLS, even Beckham has been average. Its a ridiculous over generalization that US players will get better in Europe. Players get better in whatever atmosphere suits thier style of play, provides incentive, and the player is driven to improve. Look at all the US Nats who prospered in our league (Hedjuk, Ching, Donovan, Altidore etc ..) I could make a pretty good case the Feilhaber and Davies might have found themselves as US Nats first team locks if they had played in the MLS rather than rotting on a foreign bench. Much more on this topic at another time.

    TIme for one more last dig. After the world cup we are saturated with the Euro Cup and Champions League finals until the next world cup. In that 3 1/2 year period everyone just assumes Europe is king because they haven’t seen the other leagues. Then all the sudden we have the Confed. Cup and what happens? Three of the four semi-finalists are NOT European and the final has NO EUROPE. Then everyone remembers that South American probably has the best two teams in the world (or will when Maradona is fired).

  3. Derek, absolutely agreed. I liked the sub/switch move. it proved very effective. difficult to judge how many times you can go to that well.

    I think we all agree, that we have no vendetta against these players we only hate them for poor performance. and I do mean hate.
    but I’d much rather love them for inspired play. and I do mean love.

  4. Texas,

    Good post. Outside of Jozy, Davies and Ching, the forward slots on the 2010 WC squad look pretty full right now.

    There is just enough uncertainty about midfield and defense so that there could be anywhere from 2 to 4 forward slots on the WC team. Dempsey and Donovan are as good a pair of forwards as you could want so the only two “locks” are Jozy and Charlie. Holden’s emergence as another versatile midfield/forward type doesn’t help. And if Jozy and Charlie don’t do so well in Europe in the next few months it could be wide open. They have done well lately but they are both nowhere near as polished and accomplished as Donovan and Dempsey. If you are worried about going into a World Cup with so few forwards remember it is only six games long at most and France did win the 1998 World Cup without a goal from their forwards (who no one remembers).

    Ching would be number three. After him, we’ll just have to wait to see how all the other guys play in the next few months. Cooper’s problem is his primary competitor is Jozy, not Ching. And Jozy’s need for playing time leaves little for Cooper.

  5. Interestingly enough, I follow Fulham closely because of Dempsey. One of their very good fan sites (won an award from the BBC I think) characterized EJ as UNDERRATED.

    Now that they just traded Bobby Zamora, and have yet to sign another striker, EJ just may fit into Roy Hodgson’s plans.

    He supposedly is looking good on the field.

    With regards to Clint, people need to give the guy a break. It doesn’t take a genius to see that he was GASSED. Bradley’s tactic of putting him on top late in games is a great one.

  6. “Never been any question about Eddie’s tools.” hunh?
    If there’s never been any question about his “tools”, please explain exactly what constitutes tools – Speed? Strength? Stamina? Leaping ability? Ability to strike the ball? with both Feet? Field vision? Soccer acumen? Good Posture?

    Because other than scoring a bunch of goals against “Panama” or in MLS, I’ve never, EVER seen Johnson display anything approximating a complete set of Soccer skills. The few times I caught a Fulham match he seemed to lack rudimentary fundamentals.
    If that is not the Johnson that is currently playing, if suddenly he has figured out where to position himself on the pitch to be useful and added the ability to run at the defense with the ball at his feet, then GLORY freakin’ Hallelujah, because if you can add a basic skill set to his physical gifts then the US might have actually found a 4th striker. (that would be behind – Altidore,Davies,and Dempsey). and those of you that think Dempsey wants to do anything more than play forward for the US need only look at his defense during the Confed Cup.

  7. EJ needs to have good seasons, not just a few good games to comeback. It’s his mental toughness over time that has always been his issue. And by time that can also means 90+ minute intervals.

    Regarding Cooper: Author, you seem to have the luxury of attempting to make a valid point on both sides of the proverbial fence here. Do excellent in MLS/UNMNT and earn your shot overseas, or in this case you chose to use the “suck in both” to earn your shot overseas argument. He doesn’t look sharp so yes by all accounts that means he should go overseas. If he can’t play himself out of the wet paper bag that is MLS given his background and pedigree, he has no business going anywhere but the bench of FC Dallas. I just disagree with how you attempting to blame his repeated ho-hum USMNT appearances on MLS.

  8. Balls to the wall Attack if Eddie gets lots of playing time for Fulham


    There would be so much speed on the field from the front 5 attackers def would be crazy. But it will never happen.

  9. @bfbs That is really funny that you think EJ succeeds with hussle. As KCB mentioned, he was lazy to the point of being unprofessional in KC. But I agree that he is of limited talent. Posters who write about his talent, what are his strong points? Passing? Positioning? Accurate shooting? Heading? Performance under pressure? I didn’t see any of it in KC or on the national team. Only speed. Maybe we should recruit some short track stars. I haven’t seen his English play.

  10. A couple of posters have mentioned it and I’m going to put in my 2 cents for Dempsey as a striker. I first heard about him when we saw this kid from Furman (I believe)jumping into the box and throwing himself at balls. He goes to England where he doesn’t play much but scores the goal that keeps Fullham up. The next season he’s getting modest playing time when McBride the target player in Lawrie Sanchez’ awful system goes down and they stick Dempsey in his place as a target player. He scores (I believe) 6 goals with a (relatively) bad team and a bad long ball system. He scores 3 great opportunistic goals against world class competition in Confeds and he’s getting stick for not defending his wing from Harkes. This is a box player, good in small spaces getting off shots and he’s playing the wing. Yes, I know he plays the wing at Fullham (although on offense he usually pinches in more like a withdrawn striker). I think he should be up top, probably with Altidore with Charlie Davies potentially waiting to come in if US is down a goal to run at tired defenders.


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