Fire's Johnson called for national duty
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Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson will be joining the U.S. National Team as it prepares for the Gold Cup. Paolo Tornaghi will start in goal for the Fire while Johnson is away.
It's a common conundrum for pro soccer club coaches: You want players good enough to be called into their national teams, but you don't want them to be called in the middle of your season.
Sean Johnson showed the Chicago Fire just what it will miss for most if not all of July when the goalkeeper made 6 key saves in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory, keeping the Fire in the game when the game was still close. U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann announced Thursday he is calling Johnson for July's Gold Cup. The Gold Cup final will be July 28 at Soldier Field, and the United States is favored to be there against Mexico.
"I hope to be a part of that squad going forward," Johnson said Wednesday night, not willing to scoop Thursday's announcement. "It's an exciting year for U.S. Soccer with the qualifiers, the last games you have in the hex. The results were huge."
"With every game, with every season as a starter in Chicago, he's improving," Klinsmann said of the 24-year-old Johnson, who has 3 national team caps.
"We just want to make sure we build the next goalkeeper generation."
Paolo Tornaghi will start in goal for the Fire during Johnson's absence.
It could have been better/worse for the Fire. The team also could have lost red-hot forward Mike Magee, but Klinsmann decided he preferred others, not even putting Magee on the 35-player preliminary roster that was narrowed to 23 Thursday for the Gold Cup.
"We had him on the 35-man roster list. Mike is a player we follow, absolutely," Klinsmann said.
The Gold Cup is a tournament involving national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, with the winner of this year's tournament meeting the 2015 winner to advance to the 2017 Confederations Cup. Klinsmann also is using this year's tournament to get a look at more players who might be helpful during the remaining 2014 World Cup qualifiers and for next year's World Cup.
"Hopefully, we can learn a lot coming out of the Gold Cup," Klinsmann said.
Follow Orrin's soccer reports on Twitter @orrin_schwarz
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