Fire goalie Sean Johnson confident after national-team duty
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media February 9, 2012 11:30PM
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 04: Goalkeeper Sean Johnson #25 of the Chicago Fire passes against the Seattle Sounders FC in the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final at CenturyLink Field on October 4, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Updated: March 11, 2012 8:52AM
The Fire missed goalie Sean Johnson while he was with the U.S. men’s national team, but the club had little time to welcome him back.
Not even a day after his return, Johnson was thrown in with the Fire’s first team at the start of the second phase of training camp in Ventura, Calif.
“My teammates make it easy to adjust and get right back into things,” Johnson said. “The new guys are great. I’m still trying to develop those relationships with the new faces, but it’s a good thing.”
Coach Frank Klopas said Thursday that the team will sign a center back before the season starts.
“We make adjustments accordingly,” Johnson said. “Right now, we have the players that are in camp, and we’re building on what we have now.”
Johnson could have joined the Fire for the last portion of the first phase of training camp in Ave Maria, Fla. But considering he had been playing since the end of the 2011 season and has familiarity with much of the roster, the club gave him about a week to recuperate.
“Other than when he has to be away with the national team, he’s going to be here with us,” Klopas said. “So it’s full-go with him.”
The Fire returns many of its players from last season, when the 22-year-old Johnson bounced between the first and second teams.
After earning his first national-team appearance in January 2011, Johnson was benched in April for six MLS games.
But the trying nature of last season and his experience in international competition have made Johnson a more confident player. Entering his second full MLS season, he is undoubtedly the starter.
“As I go along, I think it’s important to be able to pull on both the positives and the negatives,” Johnson said, “and to combine them in a more consistent season and hold myself to a higher standard.”