As I reported yesterday, U.S. international Eddie Johnson was reportedly coming to an MLS club after agreeing to join the league. It was announced via conference call by the league yesterday, and for several hours yesterday, an article on the move from Greg Lalas on the league's website was posted. But that article was quietly removed, and speculation arose that maybe something was up concerning the move.
Indeed, that was the case. Today there have been conflicting reports about Johnson holding off on officially joining the league. On one side, the league said Johnson pulled out of the deal yesterday. The presumable reason was that he balked at the amount of money offered to him, and the rumor was that only one team in the league was seriously interested in him.The account on Johnson's side, coming from his agent, is that the deal was announced prematurely before it was finalized, and that Johnson is suffering bad P.R. from the league's attempts to rush the process along before he was ready to sign on the dotted line. Needless to say, the war of words today means he is unlikely to join the league, at least this year.
What does this mean for Chivas? Probably not much. Although Chivas had the first option in the allocation order, the fact that Johnson only heard interest from one club means Chivas probably didn't want him. So they probably would have passed him anyway, just like they have with Benny Feilhaber and Freddy Adu. You could make a case that Chivas did get more bang for their buck in obtaining Laurent Courtois, David Junior Lopes, and now Juan Pablo Angel, than in getting either Adu or Feilhaber, but time will tell whether or not that is the case. I would argue that Johnson would have been the riskiest pickup of the three internationals, and should be paid the least, because his career fell off a bigger cliff than Adu's in the past few years, and he is well-known for his lack of effort in games. For Johnson, I am surprised to see him reject rejoining MLS, because I don't think there is much of a market for him. There is a chance some team somewhere will pick him up, but re-establishing himself at home would seem like a more logical move than going to an obscure European league, where he might not get any playing time anyway.
Of course, the soap opera could reverse course once again. We'll keep you posted.