Eddie Johnson has a place in history for Toronto. He was the first player to even find the back of the net at BMO Field when he scored the opening goal for the Kansas City Wizards on April 28, 2007. Since then he has been on an interesting journey that saw him leave MLS to head over to England, including stops with Fulham, Cardiff City, Aris (of greece), and Preston North End over a four year span, but after his contract with Fulham ended he was not re-signed. That opened the door for the American forward to make a return to MLS which he did on February 17, 2012.
Johnson was picked up by the Montreal Impact via that allocation process but the expansion team immediately shipped the goal scorer west to the Seattle Sounders where he spent the last two seasons. With the Sounders, Johnson scored 23 MLS goals in 48 appearances. He also managed to get himself back on the national team radar picking up 15 caps for the United States in 2013.
Things seemed to be going well for Johnson but then the club started to spend big money to bring in other forwards which did not seem to sit that well with Johnson. The arrivals of Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey ensured that Johnson was no longer the most important player in the Sounders attack and led to a bit of a Dwayne De Rosario like complaint about his place in the salary grid.
The MLS Players Union figures list EJ as making $156,333.33 in guaranteed compensation this year which actually makes him only the 9th highest player on the Sounders roster. He wants a raise, one the Sounders cannot afford to give him, and his play on the field should support those claims. He led the team in scoring each of the past two seasons but despite that could very well be on the trading block now.
According to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated the Sounders are actively shopping Johnson around to other MLS clubs. The report makes sense when you consider that the Sounders are not in position to be able to offer Johnson a raise for next season and will probably have to make some sort of moves to free up cap space this offseason. Johnson does have a year left on his current contract but if he is set on getting a raise Seattle may have little choice but to find him a new club that is in position to give him that raise.
Seattle would not likely be looking to get players or picks in exchange for Eddie Johnson but would probably be more interested in allocation money. Any team that had a poor 2013 season will likely be getting a nice chunk of allocation for the league that would allow them to put together a decent offer that might just tempt the Sounders into making a deal.
Toronto is certainly a team that would be in position to work out a deal for Eddie Johnson considering that they likely have a fair bit of allocation funds at their disposal. The question is would such a deal make sense for the club.
Well, if you consider that the team seems to be focused on bringing in a pair of designated players that probably will not arrive until the summer months following the World Cup they will need help at forward in the short term. If they are serious about reaching the playoffs in 2014 then waiting for summer reinforcements might be leaving it too late.
If Toronto could convince Johnson to accept a raise that kept him below the level of a designated player then he would seem to be a player worth considering. After all, he is a US international and a proven MLS goal scorer. He would provide a much needed boost to TFC's attack and a clear upgrade on Robert Earnshaw.
The management group have talked about the need to have a core group of players in place beneath the Designated Players and an addition like Johnson could be part of that. Toronto really lacked scoring punch in 2013 which is something Johnson would bring right from the start of the season.
If TFC are willing to pay Johnson, they could get him from Seattle for a reasonable price. They would add a proven goal scorer and give the team some needed punch in the attack right from the start of the year. The downside is they would also be adding the issues that seem to have followed Johnson around. Keeping him happy would be the key to success and hopefully a nice raise in his pay would be enough to do that.
So the question now is would you like to see Eddie Johnson playing for Toronto FC or do you think that Earnshaw and Dike will be enough to get the job done until the DPs hopefully arrive in the summer?