Join soccerly to save and share the best soccer stories
Sign up with Facebook
By login in with Facebook you agree on the terms and conditions specified here

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Chicago Fire are in preseason, but goalkeeper Sean Johnson is in regular-season form, making a handful of strong saves in a 2-0 win against FC Tucson in the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday.

The keeper credits Jürgen Klinsmann and the U.S. coaches for getting him ready for his club season. Johnson was part of Klinsmann’s January camp, which lasted nearly a month and saw preparations move from California to Brazil, then back to California where the national team defeated Korea 2-0. Johnson didn’t play in that game but still said camp regimen had him ready.

“The national team speeds me up. It gets me up to the pace of where I need to be for the regular season,” Johnson said. “Now it’s just cruise control and making sure I’m taking care of myself and doing the things necessary to carry that into the season.

“It all starts here in preseason, getting in with these guys, getting familiar now. It’s important getting into games and getting game experience with the team I’ll be playing with this year. It’s fantastic.”

The Fire defense has seen a few changes this offseason under new coach Frank Yallop. Lovel Palmer and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni have joined a unit that also features Austin Berry, Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares.

The preseason provides the necessary time to get down commands and for the unit to familiarize, Johnson said, saying communication is key.

“I think we have a little bit more conversations. We’re talking a bit more, trying to figure things out. Obviously with Pat at center back and we have different center backs at different points in time, so I’m just making sure the communications there, always on the same page,” he said. “I have certain communication I use as opposed to other goalkeepers, so just making sure we get that ingrained in preseason and get on the same page is the most important thing.”

Though just 24 years old, Johnson has been the regular starter for the team since midway through his rookie season in 2010. That means he has a level of understanding with many of his defensive players well beyond his years, something that hasn’t been lost on Yallop.

“Sean showed today he knows when to make the saves, comes out when he needs to. He’s a good goalkeeper in our league and we’re pleased to have him, and he’s still young which is fantastic too. He’s done really well,” the coach said.

Meanwhile, while Johnson might be ready for the season to come, he’s aware there’s still some meshing to be done and is hoping to help his teammates get up to speed.

“I think the important thing in preseason is to just keep building, keep building toward the first game of the season,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job of that. Obviously we’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m pleased with how things have gone so far and excited about the season.”
Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT squad is one of the most complete American soccer teams to emerge ahead of a FIFA World Cup. The position that brings most pride to the US squadron, due to its skill and depth, is without question the man between the posts.

Tim Howard has been Team USA's first choice keeper since after the 2007 Gold Cup, where he alternated starts with legendary American keeper Kasey Keller. Howard had previously traveled to the 2006 World Cup in Germany as Keller's replacement but failed to make an appearance throughout the three matches played.

The Everton keeper has since then become the undisputed starting goalkeeper for the Yanks, with Aston Villa's Brad Guzan being the only one to even come close at dethroning Howard. Guzan was a surprise pick by Chivas USA in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft and quickly became a star, making a deserved move to the Premier League in 2008.

Guzan arrived to Aston Villa as the backup for another legendary American keeper with the same first name, Brad Friedel. Since Friedel's departure from Villa and arrival at Tottenham Hotspur, 29-year-old Guzan cemented himself as the number one choice between the sticks at the Premier League club, although spent a little time as understudy to Shay Given before establishing himself fully.

Howard and Guzan will undoubtedly be Klinsmann's first choices for goalie at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil; but who will take the reins as the third-choice keeper? With a handful of goalkeepers at Klinsy's disposal, the German tactician will surely have trouble making up his mind on whether to use Troy Perkins, Marcus Hahnemann, Sean Johnson, Nick Rimando, or even Luis Robles, as the third-string goalie.

Real Salt Lake's Rimando is by far the best choice for Klinsy, with the 34-year old leading the Stars and Stripes to a 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship. Rimando has been capped 12 times and was used in every match during the Gold Cup that ended in a championship match victory over Panama.

During said Gold Cup, Johnson of the Chicago Fire was the second-string goalkeeper and had his first senior squad start with a clean slate against Costa Rica during the tournament. Johnson originally had his first senior cap as a substitute in a friendly against Chile in 2011.

Robles, at 29-years-old, is four years older than Johnson but has reached his full potential at a much later stage of his career. His only cap for the senior team was in the 2009 Gold Cup during a 2-2 draw against Haiti but his current run of form with the New York Red Bulls could very well see him get another chance at the national team's goalie position.

Since the third-choice keeper is rarely ever used, especially not in a World Cup, experience in the locker room might be what the US need instead of a young and undeveloped goalie like Johnson or Robles. With two World Cups as a third-choice keeper under his belt already (2006 & 2010), 41-year-old Hahnemann of the Seattle Sounders might be exactly what Klinsmann is looking for in a third-string keeper.

Perkins (32) from the Montreal Impact is another goalie that recently had an excellent MLS season and with seven USMNT caps already, Klinsmann shouldn't overlook this rising talent. However, with Rimando making an MLS Cup final appearance alongside his Real Salt Lake teammates, it seems as if the 2013 domestic league runner-up will win the USMNT's third-choice keeper "Russian Roulette".
For Mike Magee, 2013 was a year to remember, from a change of teams to MLS Most Valuable Player. Now with the start of the New Year, 2014 brings an invitation for the first time to join the United States Men's National Team training camp. 
While, a second Chicago Fire player, Goalkeeper Sean Johnson also received an invite to return back to the team training that will be from January 6 to February 1 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Both were selected by United States Men's National Team Coach Jürgen Klinsmann for the training lasting four-weeks.
Magee moved from the Los Angeles Galaxy to the Chicago Fire at the end of May. That's when the forward went on a scoring spree throughout the rest of the season for the Fire franchise that missed an opportunity of reaching the MLS soccer playoffs.
Magee went on winning the Most Valuable Player of Year scoring 21 goals on the season. but had 15 goals and four assists in 22 games with the Fire. He's been with the MLS for 11 years, earned his first career MLS All-Star nomination and was named to the 2013 MLS Fan XI. Plus, was named to his first career MLS Best XI.
Johnson has been with the Fire for four seasons as the goalkeeper. He's made 100 regular season appearances, earning 21 shutouts with a career record of 41-33-26.
Johnson's first international appearance on January 22, 2011 against Chile at the Home Depot Center. Then, he earned his first start for the United States National Team in a 0-0 draw with Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on January 29, 2011. He's has four caps thus far and last summer in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, earned a shutout against Costa Rica 1-0 on July 16. In which, the U.S. went on to post a 1-0 shutout over Panama in the final.