Injured Johnson practices with Sounders

cONCACAF: Seattle preps for Wednesday match in quarterfinals

DON RUIZ; Staff writerMarch 5, 2012 

Game week dawned for Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday, as the club turned full attention to its CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal home date with Santos Laguna on Wednesday.

Participating fully in the morning workout at CenturyLink Field was forward Eddie Johnson.

“I’m fit. I’m ready to play,” said Johnson, who had been hampered by a hamstring injury. “I feel good. Now I just want to challenge myself to get better and better in training.”

The former U.S national team striker was acquired Feb. 17 in a trade with Montreal for fan-favorites Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito.

Johnson scored in his Sounders debut in a friendly against a college team. However, the hamstring injury kept him out of the two friendlies against Mexican sides Atlante and Jaguares.

He has participated in the past four training sessions, and said he felt normal in the last two.

“It’s just a matter of working myself to get 90-minutes fit,” he said. “But I felt good in training (Sunday). I played a lot of small-sided games – 2v2s and 3v3s – and I felt good attacking and defending. Whatever my role is in the game coming up, I’m ready. I’ve got a good group of guys behind me, some guys that are playing good football and have been working hard this preseason.”

In Johnson’s absence, third-year forward David Estrada started alongside Fredy Montero at forward.

Coach Sigi Schmid held off naming his starter until he sees how Johnson feels today.

“That’s the key: How he does after having gone (Sunday),” Schmid said. “But we wanted him full-in, so he’s still building his fitness as well. Whether he’ll start on Wednesday or not, even if his hamstring is healthy, is still 50/50. Certainly (Sunday) he got through everything. He said he felt fine, so we’ll see how he feels (this) morning.”

Meanwhile, Santos Laguna also seems to be feeling fine after the club broke out of a three-game Mexican Primera Division winless streak Saturday with a 5-2 win over San Luis.

Oribe Peralta scored four goals for Santos, with the other coming from forward Herculez Gomez, who played for Schmid in Los Angeles.

“I’ve watched a few of their games,” Schmid said. “Obviously, Peralta scored some fine goals in that game. … He’s an excellent forward. They’re a good team. They ended up being able to play a man up, which made the game a little bit easier for them, as well. They played a team they should beat, and they got a good result and scored some goals.”

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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