Sean Johnson directs the NYCFC defense on Saturday night. (Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports)

Sean Johnson reminded Minnesota United, the rest of MLS and the U.S. men’s national team that he deserved to be called into the team during the June international window.

The New York City FC goalkeeper was spectacular in the waning minutes to preserve his team’s 1-0 win at United at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday night.

Johnson made two vital saves to keep the hosts off the scoreboard as he earned his club-record sixth consecutive clean sheet. City hasn’t given up a goal in 540 minutes, or since the 90th minute of the wild 5-4 home win with Toronto FC last month.

NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila called Johnson’s performance “top class.”

“He saved us today,” he added. Keeps hero again. It’s amazing achievement. Today he was the best and we need them really. He showed up. He’s done that before. What we really needed it, he’s been there. So I’m not surprised.”

Johnson was called up to the USMNT when regular keeper Zack Steffen dropped out due to family reasons.

When he was asked about Johnson’s late recall, Deila admitted, that wasn’t his pay grade.

“It’s very difficult to me,” he said. “I don’t know the other goalkeepers are well enough. So. So that’s the coach’s decision and you have to respect that. Hopefully he’ll get a chance now when they’re going to play four games. He has to take his chances. He’s in the best shape.”

Johnson made five saves, although it seemed like much, much more.

Johnson produced two spectacular saves with time running out, denying Emanuel Reynoso and Robin Lod, which the 32-year-old keeper parried away.

“He’s come up big with some saves when he’s had to,” Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath said. “I think the disappointment would be, the opportunities we had were golden opportunities and we should score.”

“To be honest, for me before I even came to this team I knew Sean Johnson is one of the best (goalkeepers) in the league,” midfielder Alfredo Morales said. “He showed this last year in the playoffs and this year as well.  He’s so reliable, a great leader and our captain.  For me there is no question about it, I’m not sure if he gets the credit or enough credit but in our team and for me, he is the best in the league.”

Center back Alex Callens tallied the lone goal of the match, heading in Santiago Rodriguez’s corner kick in the 29th minute. It was Callens’ third goal of the season and ninth of his MLS career.

“He puts his finger in front of me every time he scores and now that’s his third now,” Deila said. “He has been unbelievable and has to be the best central defender in the league. I really hope he makes the World Cup with Peru.  All Peru needs to know is that he is coming in the best shape ever.  He has been so vital for us, and I hope I can go to Qatar to watch him play.”

The result, which extended NYCFC’s unbeaten streak to eight games, boosted the squad to into first place in the MLS Eastern Conference with an 8-3-2 and 26 points. Minnesota (18) fell to 5-6-3. It also was the Cityzens’ second road win of the season.

“We have to be humble in this kind of situation,” Deila said.  “The only way we can go is downwards from here.  You have to understand why you are good, and why things are working right now.  We have to be grateful for the amazing team we have.  It is really easy being a coach when you know you have amazing players on the bench who can make a difference in the game.  You saw that today as well, all the players that came on made a difference.  This is a big strength we have as a squad and club.”

Heath gave NYCFC his due.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “It’s a very difficult team to play against because they way they’ve set up, they’ve got really good players in key positions. They’ve got some really good technicians, they’ve got some pace. There are some real brains in the middle of the park with Maxi Moralez. They’ve got likes of [Talles] Magno, Santiago Rodriguez, [Valentin] Castellanos, who will probably go on from here and go to Europe to play for some big clubs. They’re quality young players.” editor Michael Lewis has written a new book, ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. You can learn more about it or purchase it here: