Sean Johnson

Johnson back with the Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since the United States’ disappointing exit from the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. But it doesn’t appear he's returning to his starting role just yet.

Because he only played 50 minutes for the US Under-23s during the tournament, Fire head coach Frank Klopas isn't ready to throw what he considers a rusty Johnson back into the mix on Sunday in Colorado (7 pm ET, Galavision).

“You need to be playing games," Klopas told reporters on Wednesday. “Sean’s a great goalkeeper, but it’s difficult when you don’t play.”

Instead, Klopas will probably go with 23-year-old Italian Paolo Tornaghi, who has allowed one goal in two starts. It’s unclear who will be the No. 1 goalkeeper once Johnson is game-ready.

Johnson allowed the stoppage-time goal against El Salvador on Monday that ended the American hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Even so, Johnson described himself as “mentally ready” to resume his role between the pipes.

“Physically, I’m ready to get back on the field,” he told reporters. “If anything, the field is therapeutic to get back in and get back to your business.”

The 22-year-old has been through stretches of poor form before. Last season, he struggled early before being benched for six games in April and May.

“I don’t think one game defines me as a player," he said of his latest setback. "I’ve been through this before. You get through it, and you get stronger mentally. Unfortunately [the goal] ended our run for the Olympics, but now our season continues and we’ve got a lot of games left. It’s kind of important to get back and contribute when I can.”