Will Johnson joined the Portland Timbers at the very beginning of the off season last year, among the first of the many new additions to the roster. Johnson clearly established himself as a leader quickly, earning the captain's armband and becoming one of the most valuable players to the team's success.
2012 Ranking: N/A
Johnson had an exceptionally good 2013. His five assists, nine goals, and 2,520 minutes played were all career highs. He was voted the Supporters' Player of the year and named to the 2013 MLS Best XI.
A less tangible but, to anyone who watched the Timbers in their first two MLS seasons, still very apparent part of Johnson's contribution to the team was his mentality. The Timbers of 2011 and 2012 were a little too soft, a little too nice. This season's Timbers were tougher, and whether he was chucking Gatorade bottles off the pitch, scoring both goals to bring the Timbers back from a two-goal deficit, or teaching the referee how to count, Will Johnson often seemed to be one of the players leading that charge.
Johnson missed all but one match in August while he made his way back from a shoulder injury he suffered in the Real Salt Lake. The relatively rough patch of one win, one draw and two losses that the the Timbers went through during his absence speaks to his importance to the team, as does their undefeated streak to finish out the season after his return.Cup Semifinal against
We all kept Will Johnson in pretty much the same place on our 2014 potential ranking. At 26, he's still several seasons away from the point where age starts to become a major concern. He may not break all the career records he set this year, but as the captain and hugely important part of the 2013 Timbers, Johnson looks poised for another big year 2014.