Sean Johnson has been named in Bruce Arena’s final 23-man USMNT squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The 28-year old NYCFC goalkeeper will represent the Stars and Stripes on home soil in the tournament which runs from July 7 – 26. It’s Johnson’s first call-up since he was named in the Gold Cup squad in 2013 when the United States won the competition for the fifth time.
Johnson told NYCFC.com: “It’s special every single time. Every single time you get an opportunity to wear your country’s badge and represent what it means to be from the United States is great.
“You can’t explain the feeling and there’s never a time when you get called up that it doesn’t feel special.
“I’m excited to be back with the group, having been part of the 2013 Gold Cup team that won, and I’m looking forward to getting out and doing it again.”
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira expressed his pride after learning of Sean’s call-up, putting it down to the goalkeeper’s hard work over the past six months.
Vieira said: “As a coach, as a football club, we are really proud and happy for Sean.
“Since Sean arrived in our football club, he’s been working really hard and playing really well.”
Upon signing with NYCFC in the offseason, Johnson spoke of his desire to return to the National Team as one of his big motivations for moving to the Big Apple. He credits working with NYCFC Goalkeeper Coach Rob Vartughian, as well as fellow stoppers Eirik Johansen and Andre Rawls, as being crucial in his subsequent improvement.
“I think I’ve improved a lot,” Johnson reflected, “For me, working with Rob on a daily basis it’s been about really breaking down my game and getting back to some of the simple things, along with some tweaks and changes that he felt could help me and I think they have.
“Working with Eirik and Andre every day, the group’s been unbelievable and I think it’s something to be said for those two. Not much is said about the corps of goalkeepers, but with the goalkeeping coach and the other two goalkeepers I work with, it’s been great.”
This will be Johnson’s first taste of working under Arena, a native New Yorker who has returned for a second spell in charge of his nation.
Johnson explained: “I haven’t had much interaction with Bruce as the National Team manager, but I will say I’ve known him over the years through league play – I’ve known a ton of players to play for him and they’ve had nothing but good things to say.
“I think the results so far have spoken for themselves. He’s a really well-respected manager, not just among players who play for him, but players from afar who have seen how he operates and how he runs his ship.”
Johnson will definitely miss two NYCFC games against Minnesota and Vancouver due to international duty as he goes out to try and retain the title he clinched in 2013.
Sean added: “First and foremost, I want to win the Gold Cup, that’s the aim going in, doing what I can to contribute.
“Obviously, being a competitor, you want to get in there and do what you can to help the team win and, if you get the opportunity to put on the U.S. jersey and step on the field, to do your part in in helping win the Gold Cup like I did in 2013.
“It’s a long tournament, I know what it entails, what’s necessary to win a tournament like that, so I’ll also bring the experience I have from the past.
“Hopefully we can put it all together and raise another cup.”
USA will face Panama, Martinique and Nicaragua in the group stages of the Gold Cup on July 8, 12 and 15 respectively. Before that, the squad will assemble for a training camp in Nashville, TN on June 25 before taking on Ghana in a pre-tournament friendly in Hartford on July 1.
Everyone at NYCFC would like to congratulate Sean on his call-up and wish him all the very best for the tournament.