Eddie Johnson's performance since signing a big-money, DP deal with D.C. United has slipped compared to the standard that made him a star in Seattle and a key component of the USA's World Cup qualifying campaign. One of his former U.S. national team teammates has taken notice and offered a rather brazen opinion on why.
Brian Ching, a retired Houston Dynamo icon who is now the managing director of NWSL's Houston Dash, called Johnson out for only performing when he's playing for a contract or more money – and, yes, Johnson is the same player who celebrated a goal for Seattle last season with a "Pay Me" gesture – ahead of the Dynamo's clash with D.C. United on Sunday. Ching was filling in on Dynamo analyst Eddie Robinson's show, and he answered co-host Sebastian Salazar's question regarding his thoughts on Johnson with unfiltered honesty.
"Played with him," Ching said. "He's one of those guys that every time he's getting close to playing for a contract or proving himself, he goes out and he does his work, and you're like 'Wow OK,' but once he gets that contract or DP status, he tends to disappear a little bit. It's kind of like he is fighting so hard to prove that he's good that when he gets there he just kind of stops doing the things that made him successful.
"That's one of the things that I've noticed about Eddie, playing with him and just seeing him at different points in his career. And that's one of the biggest things. Obviously you probably couldn't do this, but if I was to sign him I would say 'Hey, here's 10 grand a goal. You're making 50 grand or you're going to make 100 grand, you want money, score goals.' He's that kind of guy. He's like, 'OK, I'm going to go out there and score goals,' and he has the talent to do it, but I think he loses that drive and that mentality once he gets rewarded or gets his contract.
"He has the talent, there's no doubt about it, but it's up to him. And that's been the problem the whole time is his motivation. What's really driving him, what's really motivating him? He can be as good as he wants to if he wants to, but it takes hard work, it takes determination and it takes the attitude that 'I'm going to do it day in and day out not just turn it on here and there.'"
The comments were made prior to D.C. United's game Wednesday against Toronto FC, when Johnson scored on a powerful header as part of a 3-0 win, marking the third straight game that Johnson has scored. From the sounds of things, he's got plenty of motivation to make it four in a row. Here's how Johnson responded, via Twitter: