Fire roster unchanged as Johnson declines MLS offer
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Sometimes change happens. Sometimes it doesn't.
Take former U.S. national-team forward Eddie Johnson, for instance. On Tuesday when the league announced his signing, it seemed likely Chicago would be his destination through the allocation draft.
But Wednesday morning, as word was breaking that Johnson's deal with the league fell through, Fire interim coach/technical director Frank Klopas made it clear Johnson was not on the way.
"We have a team right now, and through the end of the season we're going to work with this group right here," said Klopas, clearly not in a good mood.
"We had reached agreement, subject to formal documents," MLS executive vice president Todd Durbin told MLSsoccer.com. "It's unfortunate the player did not want to conclude a formal agreement, but we wish him well in his future endeavors."
It might be just as well. Clearly the Fire needs another finisher up front, but Johnson has had his share of off-field problems, and he hasn't had much success on the field lately either, bouncing from the English Premier League to Greece and out of favor with the national team over the past few years.
Meanwhile, rumors have surfaced that Fire midfielder Marco Pappa was being courted by FC Twente in the Netherlands. Not so, said Klopas and Pappa on Wednesday, at least not yet.
"We haven't been contacted by any team in Europe regarding Marco," Klopas said. "I think Marco's a good, talented player. It's great people are writing stuff like that, if it's rumors or not. I can tell you the league hasn't been contacted and we haven't been contacted by any clubs to this point."
Added Pappa: "I have a contract with MLS for one more year. It's just a rumor. When I know something for sure I'll let you know."
The European transfer window remains open until the end of August, however, and if the deal is right the Fire and Pappa could both be convinced to make a change.
"It depends," said Pappa, who also is a member of the Guatemala national team. "This is my third season in MLS and I'm happy with the league. They gave me the chance to play outside of Guatemala."
Losing Pappa would be tough on the last-place Fire. The 23-year-old is the club's only player with a regular national-team gig, and he's second on the team this season with 5 goals. He's a quick and highly technical player who fans enjoy watching, but his defense is suspect. According to the MLS Players Union, his base salary this season is a reasonable $120,000.
For now Pappa is concentrating on Thursday's nationally televised home match against D.C. United (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
"We know we need the points," Pappa said. "We're going to have our fans in the stands, so that's extra motivation. We need to work hard in the game and try to do our best on the field."
• Follow Orrin Schwarz on Twitter@orrinsoccer.
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