Sounders’ Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans called up for U.S. qualifiers
Johnson and Evans were called up by the U.S. national team Sunday for upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Clint Dempsey, the U.S. captain, was left out due to a hamstring injury.
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Less than 24 hours after one of Sounders FC’s most embarrassing defeats, the team sustained more losses Sunday.
Two Seattle players — Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans — were included in the latest U.S. men’s national team roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers. They’ll miss MLS games Wednesday at home against Vancouver and Oct. 13 at Portland, though it could have been worse.
Sounders designated player Clint Dempsey, the USMNT captain, was left off the squad due to a hamstring strain that has kept him out the past three weeks.
The U.S. has already clinched a berth in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann is aiming to finish first in the qualifying group. The team’s remaining qualifiers are Friday versus Jamaica in Kansas City, Kan., and Oct. 15 at Panama.
The Sounders stand to have lost 19 player-games this season due to international duty after those two games, led by Johnson’s nine (if he plays in both qualifiers). Evans, Dempsey and Mario Martinez, who is no longer on the team, also missed multiple games serving with national teams.
Johnson said it’s an honor and privilege to wear the U.S. jersey but noted “it’s tough to leave” amid a tight battle leaguewide for the Supporters’ Shield, a trophy awarded to the team with the best regular-season record. Missing a pair of rivalry games is also tough.
“Those are games we look forward to every year,” said Johnson, the Sounders’ scoring leader with nine goals.
“It’s one thing to get called into the national team, but if you’re going and you’re going to take it for granted, you’re not going to get anything out of it. You might as well not even go. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity again, and I want to make the most of it.”
Dempsey had started all eight games in the final round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.
“For Clint, it is really important to pick up the rhythm, to get back into shape and play games,” Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “He needs to train very intensely and get as many sessions as possible. He had injury problems, the transfer (to Seattle) was done late and he didn’t have a proper preseason, and he’s running behind. So he has to do some catching up and he will eventually get it done.”
Evans missed the last round of qualifying due to a calf injury, but he has started the past five games he has been available, including three qualifiers. Johnson has played a federation-high 14 games for the U.S. this year with five goals, including one in a 2-0 win over Mexico last month that clinched the World Cup berth.
The call-ups are just the latest obstacle in the Sounders’ seasonlong quest to get to full strength (injuries have been a big factor, too).
Seattle, winless in its past three, might not have all its weapons available until the penultimate game of the year, Oct. 19 at FC Dallas, or perhaps the season finale, Oct. 27 against the Galaxy.
• Rookie Dylan Remick made his MLS debut for the Sounders as a second-half substitute Saturday. The defender/midfielder was a second-round pick, No. 35 overall, in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
• Defender Marc Burch earned his fourth assist of the season against Colorado, setting a personal best.
• Seattle hasn’t been shut out in 13 games, extending a team record.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.