Eddie Johnson exploded on the scene in 2004.

He scored in his first appearance at El Salvador, tapping home a Landon Donovan danger zone pass.  He then tallied a sub hat trick against Panama, with two headers and another tap-in.

Four goals in two World Cup qualifiers tends to earn a player more time on the field.  With qualification to the next round of World Cup Qualifiers secure, Bruce Arena rotated the squad and Johnson started in place of Josh Wolff.

Johnson’s activity immediately causes problems for Jamaica, and the keeper saves his close-range shot in the early minutes.  His mobility pays off in the 15th minute.  Right back Chris Albright finds Landon Donovan on the right flank, who returns the pass.  Albright plays a simple ball forward to Pablo Mastroeni.  With two defenders converging, Mastroeni plays a beautiful pass to an isolated Johnson.  With ample time, Johnson settles the ball, cuts toward goal, and before two sliding defenders can reach him, finishes calmly in the far left corner.

Two things stand out on the replay:

  1. Johnson displays excellent awareness on his run before receiving the pass.  As good as Mastroeni’s pass was, Johnson’s well-timed run created the separation from the defenders.
  2. That backflip celebration in the 1950 throwback uniform is one of the most stylish moments in US soccer history.
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