August 14, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
Johnson gets MNT call after Olympic letdown
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson has put March's failure by the United States men to qualify for the Olympics behind him. So too has U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who on Sunday named the 23-year- old Chicago Fire netminder to the U.S. team that will take on Mexico at Estadio Azteca on Wednesday (7pm CT ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision).
|Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson will be with the U.S. Menís National Team for Wednesday nightís friendly against Mexico at Azteca Stadium.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
"He (Klinsmann) said I've been doing a good job over the past couple of month so, he wanted to give me the opportunity to be with the full team and go in and get a job done against Mexico," said Johnson after a big in-conference win over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.
Johnson, who was drafted by the Fire in 2010, has been having a stellar season in goal for the team, and he says he long ago put the fiasco in March behind him.
"March has nothing to do with me getting called now," said Johnson. "That's the past and the past is the past. Obviously I am over that. Just playing day in and day out, just be able to stay consistent and moving forward. How I play is going to determine what happens in the future. So the past has nothing to do with it. It's one game in the grand scheme of my career, hopefully itís a long one. One game doesn't define a player, so you don't become a bad goalkeeper overnight. I am just able to keep that mentality moving forward. I got over it pretty quickly and I was able to get back to it. "
In 20 games this season, Johnson has a 1.11 goals against average for the Fire, a 10-6-4 record and four shutouts.
"Sean found his way back to balance and put this horrible moment behind him," said Klinsmann. "He focused on work day in and day out, and said Iíve got to do my best possible for the Chicago Fire and that Iíve got to be consistent, that Iím there to help my team win games and that Iím learning something new every day. I think Frank Klopas has done a tremendous job with him and given him lots of support, and thatís why we called him back in.Ē
His club coach, former U.S. National Team midfielder Frank Klopas, says his call-up by Klinsmann is a testament to Johnson's work ethic.
"In this country we do have a lot of goalkeepers, but when you are playing well, it's good to be rewarded," said Klopas. "Sean has been playing very well. He's learning and getting better with every game. It's always an honor when you get a call like that. To be recognized for the job you are doing on the field, it's good for him, I am happy for him.Ē
Klopas says Johnson was put into a difficult situation in the U.S. Olympic qualifying game, coming in for the injured Bill Hamid and surrendering the goal that knocked the team out of contention for London 2012, but got over the setback quickly.
"Itís a difficult position to come in without playing," Klopas said. "But his mentality and attitude was good. He's over it, You just have to get in and keep playing.
"Hopefully he doesnít make any more mistakes, but in soccer, and in life you do and hopefully you learn and move on."
Klinsmann is bringing in a very young squad for this friendly with Mexico, perhaps as a look to who might be a good fit for upcoming World Cup Qualifiers in September against Jamaica, but also perhaps in a way of telling them the National Team program has not lost faith in them despite not qualifying for the Olympics.
"After the disappointment of the Olympics, we told these players that your path will be much tougher than you thought it would be because youíre missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of your lifetime Ė an Olympics," said Klinsmann. "For these kids watching Mexico win the gold medal brought them some tears possibly. What we also told them was when you fall down, youíve got to get back up and fight your way back. We followed those youngsters and they did it differently. All these players, we constantly observed them and spoke to their coaches. "