After a shaky start to his sophomore MLS campaign, Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has put in some big performances to coincide with the team’s second half playoff push. In this interview, I ask Sean about recovering from last Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup final loss at Seattle, preparing for Wednesday’s match vs. FC Dallas and where he sees himself in the current U.S. Men’s National Team picture.
Jeff Crandall: Wednesday’s match vs. FC Dallas will be the team’s first game since falling to Seattle in the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final last Tuesday… How has it been getting back to training following that result?
Sean Johnson: I think it was good for us to get back out and get back to work. All the boys were disappointed with the loss but if you’ve made it this far in your career you’ve learned that you have to move on from those things, you can’t dwell on them. We’ve got three games left and playoffs still to play for – everyone’s still focused and ready to get back to work. We’ve had good training sessions since coming back and I think we’re ready to get back to it Wednesday night vs. FC Dallas.
JC: Could you talk about the experience of getting to play in a game like last Tuesday’s final, in front of a crowd like that in a final?
SJ: In Seattle there’s always a great crowd. Its probably one of the best crowds I’ve played in front of as far as numbers are concerned. It was a great atmosphere but at the end of the day I don’t think the crowd had too much to do with how we played. You can’t really have any excuses, when you get to that stage, you’ve worked so hard to get there that you need to execute on the day. I think we left everything on the field, we just came up short. It was a good experience overall and I’ll take away from it what I need to.
JC: Save a small blip in San Jose the Fire have been great over the past two months, going 5-1-3 since August 13. Conversely, your Wednesday opponents FC Dallas have gone 1-5-1 in the same time and have dropped four straight matches… Good time to be playing Dallas?
[inline_node:16271]SJ: In this league you ride waves. You look at teams like Columbus, they lost like six-straight games and then came back and won vs. DC recently. Anything can happen on any given day, you have to be prepared and you can’t look at their recent record and take them lightly, Dallas is a good team with really good players that can change a game. Mentally and physically we have to be ready to go for Wednesday night but the preparation started the day after the final in Seattle. Everyone’s in good spirits and I think we’ve all moved on from the Open Cup Final.
JC: Since earning your first U.S. Men’s National Team cap back in January, you haven’t been called in by new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, with the manager calling up DC United’s Bill Hamid as the “young, MLS keeper” in every camp since taking over the job. How has that factored in for you this season?
SJ: You can’t really focus too much on not getting called up. My job is to come out every day , to give my all for my team and perform when we play. I think another call will come in due time, if I keep playing consistently, try to stay even keel and help my team get into the playoffs that might time will come. I’m young but the national team is obviously a place I want to be, it’s a process of calling players in and out, getting looks at players. I hope to be camp again sometime soon but right now I’m just focused on the Fire.
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.