Sean Johnson is starting anew at New York City FC this season, having joined the club from expansion side Atlanta United. However, it wasn’t with the newly formed club that Johnson made a name for himself as one of Major League Soccer’s most consistent shot-stoppers.
The talented goalkeeper was born in Georgia to Everet and Joy Johnson and sports always played a big part in his life. While his brother opted for basketball, Sean Johnson favoured a career as a professional soccer player.
He moved a step closer to making his dream a reality when he began studying at the University of Central Florida in 2007, where he was soon enough given a starring role in the UCF Knights soccer team.
While soccer was the main thing on Johnson’s mind, that didn’t stop him from excelling in his college studies too – he was named as a Honor Roll student in 2008 and was also named as the Knights’ Most Valuable Player in the same year.
That incredible feat caught the attention of USL Premier Development League side Atlanta Blackhawks, who signed Johnson ahead of the 2009 season. The goalkeeper would go on to make seven appearances for the club while continuing on at college. Likewise, he was also called up to the United States U20s team, travelling with the side to the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, and it soon became clear that he was destined to make it as a soccer star.
Despite his success at college, Johnson would never graduate. Instead, he would drop out in 2010 to sign on with MLS as a Generation Adidas player, which would see him join a top-flight club via the 2010 SuperDraft, becoming the first ever UCF student to do so.
The lucky club was Chicago Fire, and by the end of the year Johnson would be taking to the field as their first-choice goalkeeper. Andrew Dykstra started the season between the Chicago Fire sticks, but after an inconsistent run of results, Johnson was given the opportunity to impress against LA Galaxy in August. From that moment on he made the position his own.
It was during his time at Chicago Fire that Sean Johnson became known as one of the league’s best performing goalkeepers. His best year came in 2012 when he ranked as the league’s sixth best shot-stopper, recording the second highest number of saves in MLS. 2013 saw him rewarded with a place in the United States national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which would see him earn the only major honour of his career so far.
However, after five years of non-stop action, 2016 saw Johnson’s place in the Chicago Fire team come under threat from new recruit Matt Lampson, who was first choice for the first nine games of the season.
Despite regaining his place and going on to make 22 appearances for the club throughout the 2016 campaign, it
seemed that both Johnson and Chicago Fire had made up their minds to part ways following seven years together.
Despite joining Atlanta United in December 2016, Johnson would then switch to NYC FC on the same day, in what appears to be a win-win situation for both club and player. New York City get a proven MLS goalkeeper with bags of experience, while Johnson gets the chance to impress with a top club that offers him a real chance of adding some silverware to his collection.