Johnson to remain with Wizards
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eddie Johnson, Major League Soccer's leading scorer, has turned down a transfer from the Kansas City Wizards to Derby of England's Premier League. Peter Vermes, the Wizards' technical director, said Tuesday that Johnson made the decision earlier this month after returning from U.S. national team duty at the Copa America. "There was an offer for Eddie, and Eddie decided he wanted to stay with the Kansas City Wizards and play in MLS," Vermes said. Vermes said he could not confirm the terms of the transfer fee offered by Derby, said to be in the $3.6 million range. Derby won promotion to the Premier League this past season after being relegated from England's top division following the 2001-02 season. "For Eddie to stay says a lot about our league and a lot about the Kansas City Wizards," Vermes said. "Everyone says when our players get good enough, they go to Europe. Now here's Eddie Johnson, and he's staying." Johnson was not immediately available for comment. "He is young, has great pace and also a point to prove because he has never played in England before," Derby manager Billy Davies was quoted as saying in the July 19 editions of the Derby Evening Telegraph. "He scores goals for fun and has started the American season like a house on fire. He is the most valued player in the MLS. Very few American players have come to this country and failed. They have a lot to offer, they are fit and they are very good professionals." The 23-year-old forward, the first U.S. player to score eight goals in his first eight international games, has thrived under first-year Kansas City coach Curt Onalfo. He has 12 goals in 11 games for the Wizards -- a spectacular comeback from a 2006 slump that saw him score just twice in 19 games -- and has scored twice this year for the national team. This was the second time in a little more than two years that a European team has tried and failed to land Johnson. MLS, which signs all of its players to contracts, rejected a proposed transfer to the Portuguese club Benfica in March 2005, when he was playing for FC Dallas. Johnson trained with Reading, another Premier League club, this past offseason.