The Timbers new midfielder showed off some of the qualities that brought him to Portland.
The Timbers preseason friendly on Tuesday was a chance for fans to see a lot of new faces for the first time. One of those new faces was Will Johnson, who the Timbers acquired from Real Salt Lake at the very beginning of the off season. Though Johnson didn't make quite the splash that teammates Diego Valeri and Jose Adolfo Valencia did, he a bit of why the Timbers were so eager to bring him to Portland.
The first thing that stood out about Johnson's play was how natural Caleb Porter's high-pressure style came to him. Of course, since he came to us from Real Salt Lake that is no huge surprise, as they always strive to dominate possession and tend to put a lot of pressure on the ball to win it back. Still, even if it isn't surprising, it is great to see some confirmation that Johnson plays well in the sort of system the Timbers are trying to establish this year. If the usual line-up this season looks like Tuesday's line-up, with Johnson on the left and Diego Chara on the right, the pair of them should be a huge annoyance to opposing teams as they go about disrupting things in the midfield.
One surprise, and a pleasant one, was how quick Johnson was with the ball at his feet. On a few occasions he was able to weave through Colorado's midfield before laying the ball off for a teammate. He also looked like he was running for two in the midfield, constantly moving and popping up every where. It will be interesting to see if he can keep that up for a full 90 minutes without dogging it at the end of matches.
It will be fun to see more of Johnson as the preseason progresses. He seems like a player who will be able to exert his influence on the game as he settles in more and gets to know his teammates better.
What did you think of Will Johnson's first game with the Timbers?