The Portland Timbers aren't the only team in MLS to be blowing up their squad as Real Salt Lake has shed a few players over the weekend. Of course, where others falter, the Timbers can only gain! The most recent boon comes in the form of Will Johnson, which we reported on yesterday, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise.
For those of you who don't know who Johnson is here's a small tid bit from his Real Salt Lake bio:
A Toronto-born son of English parents, Johnson holds Canadian, American and English citizenship … Born in Toronto, moved to England as an infant and settled in the Chicago area at the age of 10 … His grandfather, Brian Birch, played professionally for English squad Bolton Wanderers.
This means that Johnson will not, in fact, be taking up an international roster spot as many surmised due to to his taking part on the Canadian national team (remember American teams can't count Canadians as domestic).
As a player, Johnson is the type of physical yet controlling type that you absolutely hate when he is playing against your team. I know I sure hated him when he played against the Timbers. Regardless, he's still a very talented midfielder that will surely be a boon for the Timbers.
Even better is the fact that he wants to play in Portland. As we reported yesterday Johnson was given the choice of a number of MLS clubs to play for. He chose Portland. Our source also stated that since signing with Portland, a number of other teams have inquired about his availability. Bottom line, this is a highly sought after player.
Here's the full press release:
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has acquired midfielder and Canadian international Will Johnson from Real Salt Lake in exchange for allocation money. Per club and league policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Johnson, 25, joins the Timbers after five seasons with Real Salt Lake, where he ranks among the club’s career leaders in games (114) and minutes played (9,445). The 2009 MLS All-Star scored nine goals and recorded eight assists for Real Salt Lake and was a key member of the club’s MLS Cup-winning season in 2009 and its run to the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final.
“Will is a proven player in MLS and has experience winning an MLS Cup championship,” said Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson. “He will be a key piece moving forward and brings a winning mentality that we feel will be very important to our culture; he is mentally tough and his attitude is infectious. He is also extremely versatile in our system.”
Johnson, who scored the MLS Goal of the Year in 2008, recorded a career-high three goals and matched a career high with three assists over 26 regular-season matches during the 2012 campaign.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Timbers and to play at JELD-WEN Field in front of some of the most fanatic fans in the league,” said Johnson. “I can’t wait to get to town, see everything and meet everyone. I hope that my experience winning in the league can be translated into success in Portland. My goal is to help make Portland a winning organization.”
In total, Johnson has played in 120 matches (105 starts), logging 9,607 minutes and registering 10 goals and eight assists over six MLS seasons with the Chicago Fire (2005) and Real Salt Lake (2008-12). He also appeared in all 14 of Real Salt Lake’s postseason appearances and all 16 of the club’s CONCACAF Champions League fixtures during his time with the club.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Johnson has 31 caps with the Canada National Team and was a staple in the country’s lineup during 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. He played in 10 games and scored two goals to help Canada reach CONCACAF’s third round of qualifying. Johnson played in both the 2009 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cups and was a finalist for the 2011 BMO Canadian Player of the Year. He made his senior national team debut at the age of 18 on Nov. 16, 2005, and has also represented Canada at the U-19, U-20 and U-23 levels.
Additionally, Johnson played two seasons in the top flight in the Netherlands from 2006-08. After spending the 2006-07 campaign with SC Heerenveen, he was sent on loan to De Graafschap in 2007-08, where he tallied three goals in 39 matches across all competitions.
Johnson will not occupy an international slot on the Timbers roster.
Born: Jan. 21, 1987 in Toronto, Ontario
Hometown: Woodridge, Ill.
Last Club: Real Salt Lake
Citizenship: United States/Canada/England
Acquired: Trade with Real Salt Lake on Dec. 3, 2012, in exchange for allocation money