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Sean Johnson saves, snags and swats his way as a leader for NYCFC

March 31, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson (1) during the second half against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. NYCFC defeated the Earthquakes 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In more than 200 career matches in Major League Soccer, Sean Johnson has combined experience, ability and athleticism to claim a lofty status – elite American goalkeeper.

Johnson had an astounding nine saves and numerous crosses swatted away or snagged in a 2-1 victory Saturday at San Jose. The Atlanta, Ga., native was named to the MLS Team of the Week.

“Some games you have to deal with more crosses and you don’t get recognition for that,” Johnson said. “Some games, that’s a deciding factor. It could be bigger than saves.”

Johnson totaled 12 saves in the opening four matches and showed years of repetition provide competence in vital moments.

“You probably make 100 decisions in a game – maybe it’s a thousand — you never know how small they are,” Johnson said. “It’s repetitions and mindset. It’s not about the last action, it’s the next action.”

Among the group in front of Johnson is first-year fullback Anton Tinnerholm, who appreciates the direction he receives from his last line of defense.

“It’s not just the saves but how he talks to our defenders,” Tinnerholm said. “It’s important to have a goalkeeper that we trust.”

Johnson remarked that he has a great sense of security in his second year working with NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira and keeper coach Rob Vartughian.

“I’m a little more comfortable just understanding our style of play,” Johnson said. “It’s about staying present and not dwell on anything. All the decisions can be discussed afterwards.”

Villa, Ring, Matarrita injury updates

 Ronald Matarrita is training full for a second straight week and has clearance for next Wednesday’s home match against Real Salt Lake.  David Villa and Alex Ring performed exercises on the side but are expected to join the full squad soon.

“Both of them should be training with the team on Sunday or Monday morning,” Vieira said. “I have to evaluate the number of days they do full training and see if they can take some part in the game.”

Villa has been held out of three consecutive matches while Ring has been absent in each of the last two games. Vieira denied he had already resolved to delay Villa and Ring’s reemergence until a week from Sunday at Atlanta United. 

“We know how important it is to do at home,” Vieira said. “I will put the best 11 out against Salt Lake to try to take the three points.”

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