D.C. United's Eddie Johnson (pictured) is in good form heading into the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League. (Photo: Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eddie Johnson may be rounding into form just in time for D.C. United’s most demanding month of the season.
The forward has now scored in three consecutive matches as United has won four straight for the first time since the spring of 2012.
While two of those tallies came from the penalty spot, his latest -- an eighth minute header of Perry Kitchen’s cross during Wednesday’s 3-0 home victory over Toronto FC -- only told part of the story.
And United coach Ben Olsen will hope it continues as United (11-4-5, 37 points) enters a stretch seven matches over the month of August, including a home match against Jamaica’s Waterhouse FC (August 20) in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I think as he’s scored some goals, you can see his energy level out there, his energy level rise,” Olsen said of Johnson. “But take the goals away, the way he occupies center backs and the way he holds the ball for us and allows us to change the point of attack is crucial. It’s something we haven’t had here for a while.”
If leading scorer Fabian Espindola was healthy and not in the midst of recovering from a right MCL sprain, maybe Johnson doesn’t take those penalties. But he did, and it appears to have jumpstarted the 30-year-old in multiple ways.
“You know the sport--all it takes for a striker is to get a goal,” said Johnson, who signed with United this past offseason after scoring 23 league goals in two years with the Seattle Sounders.
During the second half Wednesday, he won a header that freed Nick DeLeon down the right. DeLeon went on to create a sequence that ended with defender Nick Hagglund heading into his own net to make it 3-0.
Asked to be more of a back-to-goal target man than in his previous MLS stops, Johnson admits that it has been an adjustment.
“It’s frustrating playing direct,” Johnson expressed. “I don’t like playing direct, even though I can jump in the air. That’s a strength of mine, but it’s something that is required for me to do within the team.”
Johnson’s interests, though, are clearly team first; a claim reinforced by his recent play.
“I’m more just happy that the team, we’re able to get three points tonight against a great team in front of our fans and separate ourselves from Toronto,” the veteran concluded.