Former Cosmos Johnson, Diaz latch on to new clubs

IMAGE, ELUNIVERSAL.COM

It didn’t take long for former New York Cosmos Jemal Johnson and Diomar Diaz to find themselves new clubs.

Diaz is the latest Cosmos player to find a home, signing a one-year deal with perennial Venezuelan powerhouse, Caracas FC.

“It was a fantastic year and a half, an exceptional, incredible experience,” Diaz told El Universal of his Cosmos experience. “I learned so much, grew as a person and as a footballer, I was always putting all my ability to the maximum, overcoming obstacles that came about through injury in his last year.”

Diaz, 24, hopes to bring those life lessons back home with him. At Caracas, he finds a familiar face in team boss Eduardo Saragó, who coached him during his time in Petare.

Despite injury, Diaz was a key figure in both the Cosmos’ Fall Championship and their 2013 Soccer Bowl victory.

“For me, to come back to Venezuela is no step backwards,” Diaz said.

Diaz put in formidable work in New York, making 26 appearances, 19 starts and scoring six goals overall.

Johnson, 29, takes his talents to the new NASL side, Jacksonville Armada. “Jemal is a very interesting player with good top-flight experience,” said Armada FC General Manager Dario Sala in a club statement. “We expect him to earn a starting spot and play an important role on our team during the season. The competition on our roster will be a demanding process from every player each week, and I’m confident that Jemal is up to the challenge.”

“I am very excited to be here,” Johnson added. “This is a great group of guys with a great staff and coach. I like the philosophy and how they want to play the game. I think my experience with the game and this league will be helpful, especially with the younger players around me.”

For Johnson, a New Jersey native, Florida is familiar territory having spent half a season with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers prior to joining the Cosmos in 2013. After picking up an injury in the 2013 preseason, Johnson missed nearly the entirety of the Fall campaign. Once healthy, he competed for the left wing spot in the midfield throughout 2014, making 20 appearances but only 10 starts, scoring a single goal.