The professional soccer career of Edward Abraham “Eddie” Johnson is, very sadly, officially over after the 31-year-old former U.S. national team striker announced his retirement on Sunday.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
Forced into retirement by a recently discovered heart condition, Johnson leaves Major League Soccer (most recently D.C. United) having scored 71 goals (24th most in MLS history) and notched 21 assists (92 total goals contributed) in 202 games played. Johnson made 63 appearances for the USMNT, scoring 19 goals along the way.
In an April 2015 report, the Washington Post‘s Steven Goff revealed that Johnson’s heart condition was detected this time last year, just before United’s Eastern Conference semifinals matchup with the New York Red Bulls, whom United coincidentally play in the conference semis beginning on Sunday.
Johnson’s condition is what’s known as “athlete’s heart syndrome,” which essentially means he has an enlarged heart that rests at a lower rate than normal. Athlete’s heart syndrome has also been known to mask or hide much more serious heart conditions among athletes.
Johnson was a one-of-a-kind player as far as American soccer is concerned — possessing lightning pace to get behind opposing defense, size and strength to hold the ball up with defenders on his back, and the kind of leaping ability that made him favorite to put his head on the end of any cross into the box. An often divisive figure within the American soccer community, Johnson’s bright personality and infectious smile will be sorely missed on the field of play.