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MLS West Notes: Will Johnson readies for return, FC Dallas walks in Rhine’s memory, and more

WillJohnson (Getty)


After missing the last four matches due to a broken bone in his shoulder, Timbers captain Will Johnson is ready to return to field for the final two months of Portland’s season.

“It’s been really tough. There’s not much you can do,” Johnson told the Oregonian. “The closer you get to it – the two home games, I was sitting up in the top…it’s brutal. It’s just too hard, especially when the guys are struggling, you want to get out there.”

In Johnson’s absence, the Timbers mustered a 1-1-2 record and dropped consecutive matches for the first time in 2013. Johnson trained with the club this week and is expected to play Saturday against Toronto.

Here are some more news and notes from around the Western Conference:


On Monday, Chivas USA announced that Martin Aaron Ponce’s loan spell with the Goats was over and that Ponce will be returning to Chivas Guadalajara. The 21-year-old midfielder played in five matches for the club, starting one. A former Mexican Youth International, Ponce struggled to make his presence felt with the Goats and had played just once in the club’s last nine matches.


With goals in consecutive matches, Edson Buddle has brought his MLS career total to 97, leaving him three short of becoming the eighth player in league history to notch 100 goals. The recent goals have been a revelation for Buddle, who had a 11-game goalless drought broken after finding the net in Colorado’s 2-0 victory over Vancouver in mid-August.

Buddle, who has come off the bench in the last two matches, would become just the third active player with 100 league goals, joining Landon Donovan and Dwayne De Rosario. The 31-year-old, who played for the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup, has four goals this season.


FC Dallas will be participating in a local Heart Walk this weekend, in honor of their former player and broadcaster, Bobby Rhine, who passed away from a heart attack in Sept. 2011. The club and its FC Dallas Foundation is sponsoring a team in this Saturday’s Dallas Heart Walk.

Members of Rhine’s family, along with players, staff, and fans of the organization will wear No. 19 jerseys in honor of Rhine during the walk. The club has already tripled their goal of raising $2,000 for the cause.


With Omar Gonzalez once again being called away for U.S. duty, Leonardo will try to fulfill the leadership void in the middle of the Galaxy’s defense when the club takes on Colorado Saturday. Leonardo has started the last four matches for LA, a ten-point stretch that has solidified the club’s playoff position. Boosted by his recent string of starts, the 25-year-old Brazilian believes the team will can continue its form without Gonzalez.

“It’s going to be a lot of responsibility, but we need to get used to playing without Omar because he’s going to be with the national team a lot,” Leonardo told the club’s website. “I’m confident that we are ready.”


Joao Plata, who at five-foot-two is the shortest player in MLS history, is coming off one of his best performances of his career after a one-goal, two-assist effort against Portland Friday. The 21-year Ecuadorian has been a major factor in Real Salt Lake being at the top of the Western Conference standings.

“I think Joao is somebody who has been playing really, really well for a long stretch now,” RSL coach Jason Kreis told the Deseret News. “He’s been an important player for us with assists and goals.”

Plata was traded from Toronto FC in the offseason and has appeared in 24 matches for RSL in 2013.


A year after the Earthquakes held Steven Lenhart Wig night, the club is once again holding a promotion in connection with the forward’s hairstyle. On Sunday, the club will hand out Lenhart Chia Pets to the first 2,500 fans in attendance.

In last year’s wig match, Lenhart came off the bench to score the game-tying goal in the 98th minute. The promotion is believed to be the first time a MLS club has handed out Chia Pets in honor of one of their players.


While Eddie Johnson’s goal celebration Saturday raised some eyebrows, his general manager seems to have little problem with the American International’s “pay me” celebration.

“You know, Eddie’s a super-emotional guy, and so, no, I didn’t take it personally. Eddie and I have talked on multiple occasions. We have a good relationship, so to me it was nothing more than a little bit of emotion coming out. And again, Eddie has earned some more money, so we’ll work on that,” general manager Adrian Hanuer told the Seattle Times. “He understands the salary cap issues and that it may not come as fast as he wants, but we’re working on it.”

Since arriving in Seattle prior to the 2012 season, Johnson has 21 goals and five assists in 44 appearances for the club.


Despite having the hardest remaining schedule amongst Western Conference teams (based on opponent’s winning percentage), Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie is not worried about future opponents.

“That’s not the way the game works. You’ve got to play every game. If points were given out then we’d know who was going to win the league before the season starts,” Rennie told the Vancouver Sun. “Basically we’ve just got to focus on playing one game this weekend and do everything as well as we possibly can and not worry at what point of the season we’re at, who we’re going to play.”


  1. Few can argue Eddie Johnson has been an absolute steal/bargain for the last year and a half based on his output on the pitch for both club and country. That said, it seems like many folks have a selective memory in the realization that in nearly 5 years prior to that, EJ was in the pro soccer scrap heap and nobody wanted anything to do with him. He’ll get paid after his contract runs out, but he’ll never make in the ballpark of Deuce, Keane, Henry, Donovan type money. He still has too much baggage. I had no problem with his goal celebration and, thanks to the paparazzi(esque) media vultures, this has been blown way out of proportion….Best of luck in the next 2 qualifiers EJ!!

  2. I’m pretty sure the Sounders front office are working on a trade now for Eddie Johnson. They don’t really put up with whiners. Look at what happened to three of their previous DPs. Ljungberg whined about his position and was out. Tiffert whined about playing time and was out. Nkufo whined about the team’s style of play and was out. Besides, Sounders have an excess of forwards with Neagle, Martin and Dempsey. With Zakuani coming back, there’s another cheap option for offense. Johnson’s gotta be careful. He is not in position to demand anything. Other forwards in the league who have the same amount of goals he has are making the same amount of money or maybe a tiny bit more.

  3. I am not saying I wasn’t put off, I was. But we have all been where EJ is…don’t deny it. Maybe 100s of thousands didn’t care about it like with him…but we have all been there.

    Adrian Hanuer is one smart dude. He says anything negative and it is a fight, instead he is on EJ’s side. Agrees with him. Wants to pay him $10 million per year, but can’t, etc. One smart dude, deserves the gagillions he is making as owner and GM.

  4. I love good celebrations. I HATED the “pay me” celebration. It would make me a little upset (if I were a Sounder fan) to see one of my guys gripe about the money he is making during what is supposed to be a happy moment. It would make me a bit resentful that he finds his compensation for playing soccer so awful that he has to publicly demand a raise.

    I just tried to imagine what would happen if I appealed to my employer for a raise during a press conference where we unveil a big project we worked on. It was a funny thought.

    • look at it from the side of all the underpaid players from across the league. You’re just a fan, these guys have an investment in the game

    • As a sounders fan, I was a bit put off by it. More so cause he kind of dissed Mauro on the celebration too. There is a time and a place for that. In general EJ kind of annoys me, but he is good at what he does, finishing headers and occasionally from his feet.

      I would rather see them go forward with Neagle and Oba then have to pay a big DP like salary to EJ.


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