D.C. United news and notes: Johnson expected to return to practice soon

(D.C. United)
(D.C. United)

D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson, who left Saturday’s match early in the second half with a hamstring injury, plans to resume workouts Wednesday in hopes of playing against the winless Portland Timbers this weekend.

Johnson sat out Tuesday’s session, conducted in wet conditions at RFK Stadium’s training grounds.

“I feel good,” he said. “I just need another day.”

Johnson assisted on United’s first goal Saturday, a cross to Fabian Espindola late in the first half, but left in the 51st minute of the 4-1 home victory over FC Dallas. Moments before the scoring sequence, he had felt some discomfort in his left hamstring. Johnson received treatment at halftime and felt better, but “it didn’t loosen up again,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “He just wanted to be very cautious with it, and I am glad he did.”

Conor Doyle replaced Johnson.

Any injury issues for Johnson, large or small, raise concerns for both Olsen and U.S. national team coach Juergen Klinsmann, who is expected to name Johnson to the World Cup training camp roster. Klinsmann’s staff is closely monitoring the status of all players under consideration for the 30-man provisional roster (due May 12). Camp will open May 14 or 15 at Stanford University.

Olsen’s decisions are made in United’s best interests, but he said, “I’d be lying” if he wasn’t also thinking about how any move might impact Johnson’s World Cup status. “If he’s fine to play, he’ll play. That is the doctor and trainer’s call. If there’s no risk, then he’ll play.”

Johnson said he also has the World Cup on the back of his mind. Four years ago, he suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks before Bob Bradley‘s training camp at Princeton. Already facing long odds, he never fully recovered and failed to make the 23-man roster.

Aside from the hamstring, Johnson would also like his scoring touch to heal — for the benefit of United (3-2-2) and the U.S. squad. He has not scored in seven MLS matches and has two games to regain his form before World Cup camp begins: Saturday at Portland and May 10 at Philadelphia.

On other topics …

Johnson said he is happy for U.S. (and former Seattle) teammate Clint Dempsey, who has scored seven goals in the past four matches.

“He was frustrated when he came back to MLS last summer because, like any player, he had to adjust to a new team and a new style. There were a lot of expectations and he didn’t have a preseason last year. We all know what he is capable of. I talked to him before our Columbus game [April 19]. I told him how happy I am for him. A lot of people don’t know Clint; he’s a type of person who, no matter how much he has accomplished, he is still not satisfied. That is what keeps him hungry. There was a lot said when he wasn’t scoring for Seattle, but now he’s on fire and everyone is hoping it continues into the World Cup.”

Johnson said he has not seen the video of Barcelona defender Dani Alves‘s banana-eating response to a racial taunt over the weekend but was aware of the incident. Asked if he, as an African American, had ever been subjected to such fan behavior, he recounted a visit to Russia for an UEFA Europa League match five years ago.

“All the black players were going through the airport and the fans were there making monkey chants. At the stadium, they were doing it again. … Those people are uneducated so that is why it doesn’t get to me. If anything, it makes you want to score that much more.”

Had a fan tossed a banana in his direction, however, “I probably would have thrown it back at them.”

*Two months into the regular season, Comcast SportsNet will begin match coverage this weekend — the first of 16 to appear on the regional sports outlet. Kickoff is at 10:30 p.m. ET. Dave Johnson and Santino Quaranta are scheduled to call the action from CSN’s studios in Bethesda.

*Will Chang, movie star? Not exactly. But United’s investor is portrayed in “Million Dollar Arm,” a Disney biopic set for a May 16 release. The backstory: Chang, who owns a small share of the San Francisco Giants, hatched an idea several years ago to identify baseball pitching prospects in India — essentially, to discover a one-in-a-billion gem in a country of 1 billion people. To reach that end, Chang devised a reality-TV contest that drew 37,000 contestants. The film stars Jon Hamm. Chang’s part is played by Tzi Ma, a veteran of TV and film. Hollywood power-broker Joe Roth, the Seattle Sounders’ benefactor, is the film’s producer. [Additional details here]




Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · April 28, 2014

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