The last memory Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has in a United States national team uniform is a disheartening one.
Johnson couldn’t control a weak shot from distance off the foot of El Salvador’s Jaime Alas in stoppage time of the final group game of the Olympic qualifying tournament in March, which tied the game and ultimately prevented the US Under-23s from making a trip to London.
Senior head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had some tough words for Johnson and his teammates after the tournament.
“After the disappointment of the Olympics, we told these players that your path will be much tougher than you thought it would be because you’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of your lifetime – an Olympics,” Klinsmann told reporters on a conference call on Sunday. “What we also told them was when you fall down, you’ve got to get back up and fight your way back.”
Johnson will have another chance to don a US uniform on Wednesday when the national team heads to Azteca Stadium to play Mexico (8 pm ET, ESPN2 and Univision), as he was officially announced as a member of the roster on Sunday.
WATCH: Johnson dominates vs. San Jose
“I was definitely happy to find out and I’m excited to get back into camp and to be around all of those good players, and definitely fight for a result against Mexico,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com after the Fire’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday.
Johnson certainly heeded Klinsmann’s words after the Olympic disappointment.
His call to the national team comes after a standout summer. For instance, he had five saves in a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City in late June, and he turned away 10 shots in a 1-1 tie against San Jose two weeks ago.
“[Klinsmann] just let us know that we needed to put our best foot forward and we had to do our job back with our clubs and keep going forward,” Johnson said. “We have long careers ahead of us.”
Johnson is one of three goalkeepers on the US roster, along with Everton's Tim Howard and Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando.
“Sean found his way back to balance and put this horrible moment behind him,” Klinsmann said. “He focused on work day in and day out, and said, ‘I’ve got to do my best possible for the Chicago Fire and that I’ve got to be consistent, that I’m there to help my team win games and that I’m learning something new every day.’”