Eddie Johnson was always a player who needed to feel comfortable in his surroundings. He was always a tough kid on the field, which is why a lot of coaches liked him. As a target player, Johnson was willing to stand in and take the punishment.
But he needed to feel needed. Going way back to his days in Dallas, then later in Kansas City, Johnson was at his best when he felt wanted, when things around the locker room were just so. Some of that was about his age. Johnson was only 23 years old when he shipped out for England in 2008 – still a relatively young man.
(Also don’t forget that he personally nixed a $6 million move to Derby County prior to the move into West London; that one, apparently, didn’t feel right.)
The point is, Johnson is a better player when he can feel good about the situation around him. So, perhaps his goal Saturday for the Sounders is a harbinger of good things ahead, a sign that he’s feeling settled in Seattle. The former U.S. international had the game-winner as Seattle downed Chicago at windy and chilly Toyota Park, 2-1.
Even if it wasn’t the prettiest (a poacher’s goal) it was surely meaningful, one of the few Johnson has hit in top tier soccer since he struck his last strike for the Kansas City Wizards in 2007.
Cardiff City was in the second tier when he scored twice for them back in the 2008-09 season. Johnson hit five times for Aris in Greece in 2010, but never found goal in 16 matches for Preston North End in 2011.
Here are highlights from last night’s road win for the Sounders. You’ll see Johnson set up the first Sounders’ goal, and later a rare goal directly off a corner kick.
Multiple reports across both the United States and the Netherlands have claimed Nigel de Jong is close to a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray.
A report by AD writer Maarten Wijffles states that De Jong is currently in the country for talks. However, while L.A. Times writer Keith Baxter confirms that a deal is in progress, he claims the player is still currently situated in the United States and has not left for Turkey yet.
According to reports in Turkey, Galatasaray began its interest in De Jong only recently, when Newcastle enforcer Cheick Tiote apparently failed a medical. Other reports citing sources with Newcastle and the player have disputed this, saying talks instead broke down over personal terms.
De Jong had only joined Los Angeles at the end of the January transfer window, moving from A.C. Milan after the termination of his contract. The 31-year-old Dutchman made 18 appearances for the Galaxy and did not score a goal.
Between Tiote and De Jong, the Turkish club is clearly targeting a certain style of player. De Jong has been known throughout his career as a midfield enforcer, sometimes on the border of dirty play, and that did not change during his short time in Major League Soccer. He made several cringe-worthy tackles, including one in April on Darlington Nagbe that caused many to fear for Nagbe’s career until it was revealed he suffered just a sprained knee. Another in early July earned De Jong a straight red card against Vancouver in early July.
The Dutchman was thought to be taking over Steven Gerrard‘s Designated Player spot next year after his retirement at the end of the current season, but De Jong’s departure means the Galaxy could have an open DP slot next season.
Lionel Messi’s “return” to the Argentinian national team may have to wait.
Barcelona has revealed their superstar picked up a left hamstring injury at an unspecified time, and discovered them during tests earlier on Monday. The statement said he would still travel to Argentina to link up with the national team for the international break, and will have more tests there.
Argentina, sitting in the third spot in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying and just two points above elimination, have vital matches against Uruguay and Venezuela over the next week. “His presence in those matches will depend on how the injury develops,” the statement from Barcelona read.
It is unclear when Messi developed this injury. He has played the full 90 minutes in all four of Barcelona’s matches this season, including the 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, the first of the four matches in which he did not score or assist a goal.
This also could be a bit of gamesmanship from Barcelona. Obviously, it benefits clubs for their players to rest during international breaks instead of play international matches, and for them to suddenly announce an injury to Lionel Messi would put pressure on Argentina to consider sitting their superstar. Of course, in attempts to dispel this idea, Barcelona included in their statement that the injury report was “approved by the FC Barcelona Medical Services and the Argentinian Football Association.”
A legitimate injury to Messi would be a devastating blow to Argentina considering Sergio Aguero has already withdrawn from the squad following an injury picked up against West Ham this weekend. Aguero was substituted in the 88th minute of Manchester City’s 3-1 win over the Hammers.
Messi was expected to make his first appearance to the national team setup after his brief “retirement” following the loss in the Copa America finals.
Sofiane Boufal is a name many will be familiar with.
After his $21 million move to Southampton on Monday for a club-record fee, plenty of people are getting excited about seeing Boufal in the Premier League.
The Moroccan international is the type of player who has already become a cult figure due to the “Football Manager” video game, as his potential to become a star of European soccer has been well documented with huge teams interested in signing him over the past six months.
[ MORE: Fabregas wants Chelsea stay ]
That’s because Boufal, 22, shone for Lille last season, scoring 12 goals and his trickery, pace, set pieces and direct running saw him named as the best African player in Ligue 1.
He chose Southampton and it seems like a very wise choice after they helped turn the likes of Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, plus many more, into top international players.
So, what have Southampton got in Boufal?
Take a look at the video above which gives a great overview of Boufal from his time at Lille after making the step up from Angers in Ligue 2 in January 2015.
That’s right, those comparisons with Riyad Mahrez seem pretty legit.
Chelsea may be set to do some late business in the summer transfer window.
According to Marca in Spain they will sign Fiorentina defender Marcos Alonso for $27 million.
[ MORE: Boufal signs for Saints ]
Alonso, 25, previously played for Bolton and Sunderland in the Premier League but the Real Madrid product moved to Serie A in 2013 and has flourished for Fiorentina. He is able to operate as a left back and in midfield and could provide Antonio Conte with another option in defense so he can switch Cesar Azpilicueta to right back and potentially Branislav Ivanovic to center back.
Another player who could be on his way to Chelsea is Real Madrid’s forward is James Rodriguez. This is one we’ve heard before, many times.
The Colombian national team captain, 25, was subject of a $80 million bid from Chelsea but according to the Daily Mirror the bid was turned down by Real Madrid.
[ MORE: McCourt to buy Marseille ]
James has found himself a bit-part player at the Santiago Bernabeu with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema around. However he has a huge release clause in his contract and Chelsea would have to pay close to $100 million for his services. Is he really worth that? When you have Oscar, Pedro, Willian, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and others already in your squad, probably not.
In terms of outgoings at Stamford Bridge, Kurt Zouma has been linked with a move to Schalke in the Bundesliga as the French central defender continues his long comeback from a horrendous knee injury he suffered against Manchester United in February last season. Zouma, 21, is said to be close to joining Schalke on a season-long loan deal wit a view to a permanent move.