The Tale of Two American Forwards
Our friend Steven Goff of the Washington Post is reporting late Sunday eastern time that Eddie Johnson has left the US National Team camp at the Home Depot Center and is en route to Craven Cottage to negotiate a contract with Fulham. Johnson whose future we debated last week on the American Soccer Show needs to man up and use his physical abilities if he is to survive in the English Premier League. (at times he’s hardly survived in MLS.)
While Johnson is apparently headed to England, his much maligned US national team forward running mate Taylor Twellman is not leaving MLS after New England rejected the best possible offer they could ever imagine to receive for Twellman from Preston North End. PNE is a club that has had Americans before and is struggling to avoid relegation to League One. Previously the league had no trouble selling an aging Brian McBride to Preston and he went on to a better career in England than he had in MLS after year one of the league. (McBride was outstanding the first season of MLS and then fairly average until his sale to Preston) But this time with Twellman badly wanting to go to England, the league and his club said no. Mike Burns, the former Revs captain who now is the GM for the club claims that Twellman signed a contract and must honor it- that’s fine in some cases but in the case of taking away a once in a lifetime opportunity for a player who has given so much to his club and league it is grossly unfair. Twellman like his New England team mate Shalrie Joseph lost out on an opportunity of a lifetime because the Revs don’t seem to play the transfer game.
The Johnson situation is odd as well. Having rejected previous offers from European clubs for Johnson’s services (an offer from Benfica in 2005 was reported to have exceeded $5 million), I am surprised MLS is so anxious to deal him now. It was obvious from my vantage point all summer long that the league was trying to dump Johnson in haste for any price- but was rebuffed when EJ himself decided to stay in MLS.
I’ll have more thoughts on both situations later and on this week’s American Soccer Show. In addition, I have spent some time at the MLS Player Combine this weekend and have some definitive thoughts about what I observed on the site and on this week’s American Soccer Show.
UPDATE: I AM HEARING EARLY MORNING EST THAT JOHNSON WILL BE INTRODUCED BY FULHAM SOMETIME TODAY AND THE TRANSFER FEE IS IN THE $3-3.5 MILLION RANGE.