Erring on Eddie

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason  Davis

So Eddie's not coming, and the story is now less about whether or not he'd work for - or be wanted by - an MLS team, and more about the PR mess the premature announcement of his signing has become. Trust the league, that Eddie had all but signed on the dotted line and chose the eleventh hour to back out, or believe Eddie and agent Richard Motzkin that there wasn't a firm deal and someone in New York jumped the gun?

It's funny that the signing of a middling American striker with fewer goals to his name in the last two and a half years than clubs has caused such a furor. It's summer in MLS, the playoffs are looming, and everyone is desperate enough to see even Eddie Johnson as a potential solution. MLS has changed, but MLS hasn't changed at all.

The same league that just signed Robbie Keane to a mega-deal also has a skittish Yank balking at whatever it was MLS offered. Maybe MLS did low ball Johnson. I'm not sure I'd blame them if they did. I also wouldn't blame Johnson if he let the lure of home sway his initial answer only to change his mind with more reflection or a whisper of interest elsewhere. I don't know if there's any real reason to assign blame for why the deal didn't actually happen. The only justifiable criticism goes to MLS for choosing to declare Johnson signed before it was a legally consummated fact.

Luckily, no one will moan over the missed opportunity to bring Johnson back home. Although he's just 27, his profile an American is essentially nil. That's a byproduct of his National Team irrelevance and his inability to stick with a team and score more than the odd goal. Might he have been worth a shot back in MLS, a league he knows and is comfortable in? Sure. But I doubt anyone is losing sleep over missing out.

Eddie Johnson made a lot of money in MLS, earned himself a sale to Europe, couldn't hack it on any reasonably high level abroad, finds himself with limited options and a heaping plate of humility, and is unwilling to take the spatula full American soccer wants to give him. So be it. We'll be just fine without him, and the notion that every moderately talented American player that falls flat in Europe should be given a lifeline in MLS is bad policy. Unless, of course, MLS was offering Johnson a contract that would put him in line with forwards of similar accomplishment already playing in MLS. Sure there's a premium for erstwhile National Teamers. It just should be applied across the board.


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