The move that has been inching closer and closer since Will Johnson told the press that his time in Portland is up has finally have arrived. The Portland Timbers announced today that Johnson is headed to Toronto FC for Targeted Allocation Money and a conditional 2017 draft pick.
That draft pick, according to our own Chris Rifer, could either be a first or second round pick in the 2017 MLS Superdraft depending on whether Johnson meets pre-agreed performance goals or if TFC meets pre-agreed team-performance benchmarks.
A vital player for the Timbers in 2013 and 2014, Johnson found himself on the outside looking in late in the 2015 season as he completed his recovery from a broken leg suffered on Toronto's field late last year. Despite making 12 appearances for the Timbers in 2015, Johnson was never quite at full fitness for the Timbers this year, prompting him to undergo surgery on his leg late in the season and opening the door for the Timbers' switch to the single pivot midfield that made this trade a necessity.
The team's captain for his tenure in Portland, Johnson was instrumental in the Timbers' turn around from the bottom of the Western Conference in 2012 to the top in 2013. More than just the goals, 15, and assists, 7, that he added from the center of the pitch, Johnson added a competitive fire to the Timbers that helped grow the team into the resilient side that it is today.
Team owner Merritt Paulson tweeted about Johnson just before the trade was made official.
Will Johnson played a big role in changing PTFCs mentality. He's a leader on & off the field. I wish him the very best and will miss him.— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) December 18, 2015
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS ACQUIRE TARGETED ALLOCATION MONEY, CONDITIONAL SECOND-ROUND 2017 MLS SUPERDRAFT PICK FROM TORONTO FC IN EXCHANGE FOR MIDFIELDER WILL JOHNSON
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have acquired targeted allocation money and a conditional second-round 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick from Toronto FC in exchange for midfielder Will Johnson, it was announced today. Per league and club policy, terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Will for his tremendous contributions to the club both on and off the field during his time in Portland," said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of the Timbers. "He has been a true professional, leader and ambassador during his time here. Given his standing with the club, it was important to come to an agreement that was mutually beneficial for both sides and involved Will in the process so that his wishes were met."
Johnson, 28, appeared in 69 regular-season matches for the club during his three seasons in Portland (2013-15), recording 15 goals and seven assists, including an MLS career-high nine goals and five assists in 2013. Additionally, he was a two-time MLS All-Star with the Timbers, earning recognition in 2013 and 2014.
"During the three years Will Johnson has been with the Portland Timbers he has been a first-class professional in every regard," said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. "His leadership and performance on the pitch certainly have been vital to our evolution into a championship club. I personally wish him nothing but the best in his future and have no doubts he will make an immediate and lasting impact in Toronto, just like he has with the Timbers."
After recovering from surgery to repair a fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg sustained on Sept. 27, 2014, Johnson appeared in 12 games (all starts) during the 2015 regular season, making his season debut on May 27 in a 1-0 win against D.C. United. He logged 1,046 minutes in 2015 and earned multiple call-ups to the Canada Men’s National Team, appearing in four 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in September and November.
"My time in Portland was a dream come true, and I want to thank Merritt, Gavin, Caleb and his staff for the opportunity to wear the green and gold," said Johnson. "I am thankful to all my teammates, with whom I now share an unbreakable championship bond. And finally, the supporters, the lifeblood of the club, as the gaffer says. Thank you for your unwavering support."
The Timbers 2013 Supporters’ Player of the Year, Johnson helped guide the Timbers to the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2013 and 2015, logging five postseason appearances and lifting MLS Cup for the second time in his MLS career in 2015.