Sean Johnson’s season has gotten off to a strange start.
He’s missed games with an infected right arm and abrasion of his left eye. In one of his appearances he made two uncharacteristic errors that led to goals, and in general has only shown occasional flashes of why many expect him to end up playing in one of Europe’s top leagues.
Oh, speaking of that, there’s also been more chatter and speculation recently about Johnson’s future and if it’s possible the 25-year-old goalkeeper could be leaving soon for one of those foreign leagues.
Johnson’s focus, however, is on the Fire.
“Having won two games in a row, being on a roll, you can’t really think past the next game and that’s Montreal (on April 18),” Johnson said. “So for me, it’s just short-term more than anything. I think building on performances will benefit me in the long term and that’s what I plan to do.”
It’s well-known that Johnson aspires to play in Europe, a goal Fire coach Frank Yallop embraces. The two have spoken about the topic, and Yallop is confident the subject isn’t messing with his goalkeeper’s head these days.
“Not one person has phoned us, so it’s a non-story really,” Yallop said. “It shouldn’t really interfere with him at all, because if he’s good enough someone will come in and take him and make a bid for him. But nobody has. At this point, he’s getting on with it. He’s a level-headed kid. He’s fine.”
That level-headed nature will help Johnson as he navigates what’s been a tricky few weeks for him. And the Fire hope the rocky beginning doesn’t lead to a rocky season.
They don’t think that will happen.
“If you think like that then you’re going to be in trouble. You can’t think that way,” goalkeeping coach Aron Hyde said. “You’ve got to be positive in these moments, you’ve got to believe that every day you’re doing the right things, you’ve got to believe in yourself and trust in your own abilities.”
Hyde knows Johnson has that belief. Though he said his focus is on the Fire, Johnson acknowledges he wants to test himself in the world’s best leagues against the world’s best players.
Yet for now, that’s secondary. Perhaps it’s on the horizon, but still secondary.
“I think when the time comes, whenever that may be for the possibility of Europe, I think then my focus will shift to that,” Johnson said. “But for the time being, I’m 100 percent focused on the Fire season.”
That means finding a flow that’s eluded him so far. He returned to practice Tuesday and is hoping a rhythm comes with a run of games he hasn’t had because of injuries.
“You just have to stay positive with those things and you’ll bounce back, no problem at all,” Johnson said. “They happen over the course of a career. It’s just how you deal with them.”