SEATTLE – Seattle Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson thinks he deserves more money, and his club agrees.
Johnson went public with his desire Saturday, when he followed his game-winning goal at Columbus by running to the touch line, rubbing his fingers and thumb together, and repeatedly mouthing the words, “Pay me.”
Johnson left the next day to join the United States national team and has not commented on the issue.
However, general manager Adrian Hanauer and coach Sigi Schmid each agreed that Johnson deserves a raise, that his play has been exceptional, and that he has not become a distraction in the locker room.
“I’ve said it before: Eddie is underpaid at this point, and we’ll address that behind closed doors,” Hanauer said. “For me, as long as those sorts of things aren’t getting in the way of us winning a championship, I could really care less. When it becomes a distraction to the team, then it’s an issue with me. But for now, we picked up a great win, Eddie was a huge part of it … so for me, it’s not an issue.”
Johnson joined the Sounders last season in a trade with Montreal, and he immediately set a club record with 14 goals. This season, he has seven goals and is tied for the team lead with designated player Obafemi Martins.
Johnson makes $156,333 in guaranteed compensation this season, a figure that has been dwarfed by the recent designated player signings of Clint Dempsey ($5 million) and Martins ($1.7 million).
“In this league, with the salary cap, you’ve got players who are overpaid and underpaid,” Schmid said. “(Johnson is) playing well, he’s working hard for us, he was engaged in the game. It didn’t take away from his engagement in the game.”
Hanauer said he hopes to be able to increase Johnson’s pay without gutting the core of the current team, which has climbed to third in the Western Conference and will take a 12-8-4 record into its Wednesday match against Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field.
Midfielder Brad Evans (calf strain) returned home with the club instead of joining the U.S. national team but his status is unknown.