With Parkview product Josh Wolff’s longtime career with the U.S. National Team coming to a recent end, a new generation of Gwinnett talent is ready to fill that void.
And Sean Johnson is leading the way.
The 21-year-old Brookwood grad was named Tuesday to the 24-player U.S. National Soccer Team training camp roster, giving him his first opportunity with the full national team. Johnson was on the U.S. under-20 team that played in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009, setting him up for this week’s promotion to the highest stage.
“Getting called up to the full national team, that’s pretty exciting,” Johnson, back in Gwinnett for the holiday break, said on Tuesday. “There’s speculation but I didn’t think about it much during the (Major League Soccer) season. But definitely after the season, it’s a goal. Hopefully you play well enough during the season to earn a call-up. It was definitely a surprise and I’m excited about it.”
The goalkeeper will join the full national team training camp Jan. 4 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The camp is in preparation for a Jan. 22 friendly match at that location with fellow World Cup finalist Chile. He is one of four goalies, but by far the youngest, on the youth-heavy roster, joining Celtic’s Dominic Cervi (age 24), the Colorado Rapids’ Matt Pickens (28) and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando (31).
“I’m just going into it with an open mind,” Johnson said. “I just want to work hard in my two weeks of camp and hopefully make the roster for the Chile game.”
Johnson earned the latest call-up after a strong second half to his rookie MLS season, when he emerged as the Chicago Fire’s No. 1 goalkeeper. He made 52 saves in 13 starts, posting three shutouts and a 1.31 goals-against average.
He is on a break from MLS until March 26, when Chicago opens the 2011 season against Sporting Kansas City.
Few Gwinnett soccer products have reached the highest levels of U.S. soccer, with Wolff being a notable exception. The 33-year-old, recently signed by D.C. United of MLS, has played for the U.S. in two World Cups and one Olympics.
Wolff earned 52 caps during his U.S. National Team career, while Johnson heads into January looking for his first.