Ryan Johnson made a big impact in his first, and perhaps only season with the Portland Timbers. His 9 goals and 4 assists were part of a multi-pronged attack and he spent the majority of the season as the team's starting forward.
2012 Rank: n/a
Johnson started the year on a tear, scoring four times and assisting twice in the first eight games of the season. He added another four in a seven-game stretch between June and August but was absent as often as he was playing the rest of the way. There's no question the Jamaican international was a key part of implementing Caleb Porter's system and was at times a very good complement to the young, improving midfield line beneath him. Yet between international appearances and Porter's look at both Jose Valencia and Maximiliano Urruti late in the year, Johnson seemed out of favor down the stretch. Yet he burst back on the scene at season's end, scoring at Chivas USA in the absurd 5-0 romp and then opening playoff scoring with a perfect header against Seattle Sounders. It's true that Johnson could have been more dynamic and a better finisher, but considering what went into changing the Timbers into a team shaped around Porter's process, Johnson may have been the perfect forward to spend the year in Portland.
With all of that said, Johnson may have been the perfect forward to spend the year in Portland. And nothing more. Gavin Wilkinson has been on television mentioning Johnson's desire to play overseas and get paid, and it does seem like Porter is turning over his forward department with the expected loan of Valencia and the rumored capture of Gaston Fernandez. It may be that Johnson was never going to be anything more than a stopgap, allowing Porter to bridge the team he inherited with the team he envisions. If that's true, it's hard to argue with Johnson's contribution but also easy to see how he doesn't fit in going forward. Most of our ranking here on potential has factored in the likelihood that he might not be back.