The offseason got even busier for Sean Johnson Thursday as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named the Fire goalkeeper to the senior team’s 20-man January camp roster set to take place Jan. 3-26 in Phoenix, AZ and Carson, CA.
The senior team call-up is the first one for Johnson since earning his debut appearance in a 1-1 draw vs. Chile in the same camp last January. It also adds to an offseason that has seen the 22-year-old goalkeeper make two trips to Europe for training camp with the U.S. U-23 team and a 10-day stint with English Premier League side Everton earlier this month.
Projected to be a part of the U.S. Olympic qualifying efforts at the end of March, Johnson just finished up another U-23 camp on Thursday.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” said Johnson from the team’s base in Sarasota, FL. “There’s a lot to look forward to in getting to play alongside the guys that are going to be there. We have two games to cap off the camp so I think it will be good competition and one that will help prepare for the season as well.”
The side is set to convene January 3 in Phoenix, AZ and train there through the 13th at which point they’ll head to Carson through the 19th. The team returns to Phoenix for their friendly vs. Venezuela on January 21 before traveling to Central America to take on CONCACAF foes Panama on January 25.
If Johnson stays through the duration of the camp, he would miss the first week of the club’s preseason preparation, set to begin January 20 in Ave Maria, FL. With further U-23 camps planned for January and February, pre-Olympic qualifying from March 22-April 2 and the Summer Games set for July 27-August 12, the Fire net minder recognizes the chances he’ll be away from the club more than a few times in 2012.
“It’s something to think about when your country calls. You’re always honored to wear your nation’s crest and to represent the U.S. With that it’s still tough to miss games with your club but its part of being a national team player. I’ll likely miss games here or there but I think representing my country is second to none. It’ll be an interesting year and a really busy one at that. Hopefully going into preseason and mixing in with the camps, it’ll be much more active then compared to the past but I’m ready for what the year has to offer.”
As a fact of life in MLS, the Chicago Fire technical staff forecast the possibility of having Johnson, one of the most talented young keepers in the U.S. pool, away in 2012. The club pulled the trigger earlier this month, picking up 29-year-old goalkeeper Jay Nolly in a trade from Vancouver. The veteran backstop will be looked at to step in during Johnson’s impending international absences but also to challenge the third-year Fire keeper throughout the campaign.
With such a busy offseason, Johnson can’t be blamed for not yet speaking to his fellow goalkeeper but was encouraged by previous encounters and some similarities the two share.
“I plan on getting in touch with him soon and catching up a little bit. I’m looking forward to working with him, I spoke with him briefly after the game in Vancouver last summer and he seems like a great guy. I think it’s important to have a good working relationship your fellow goalkeepers on and off the field and It seems we have a few things in common – we both like to fish – so I’m definitely looking forward to meeting him and getting to know him better.”
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.