D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson has been sidelined indefinitely by a heart condition that could possibly end his career, according to Steven Goff of the Washington Post.
Johnson, who will be 31 at the end of March, has not commented on his health, nor has the team. He has seen a number of specialists and D.C. United has said that it hopes to know more before the end of the month.
According to sources that spoke to Goff, however, the condition affects the forward's heart and could end his 15-year professional career. "Maybe he comes back, but it's a long shot," a source told Goff. "No one knows for sure yet."
Johnson moved from the Seattle Sounders to Washington prior to last season. He was the team's third-leading scorer, with seven league goals, and United's highest paid player. His heart issues surfaced before the second leg of the team's Eastern Conference semifinal match up with the New York Red Bulls, when Johnson checked himself into the hospital and diagnosed with dehydration and high blood pressure.
Several days after the hospital visit, Johns said that he had an enlarged heart. While he joined the team in late January this year, he missed United's three-week training trip in Florida, and he has been held out of the team's preseason trip to Texas, the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and D.C. United's MLS season-opening game on March 7.
"It's a terrible situation for Eddie, but I've spoken with Eddie, and Eddie gets it," said United coach Ben Olsen. "There is a potential life issue here that has to be focused on and making sure he is not putting himself in any danger to play this sport again. That is all that matters."
Should Johnson leave MLS, United would be able to release him and gain a roster spot. However, under current rules, Johnson's contract would still apply to the team's salary cap. Johnson earned roughly $613,000 last year, $387,500 of which applied to United's $3.1 million cap.
How MLS would handle his potential departure from the league remains unclear. "Eddie wants to play," a source told Goff. "Right now, he has to do what's right for his health."
D.C. United is 1-0 this season, defeating Montreal 1-0 in the season opener. The team plays the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.