Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers capped a frenzied day of player movement in MLS with a trade that has Canadian international and midfielder Will Johnson going to Portland in exchange for an undisclosed amount of allocation money.
Johnson becomes the third major piece of RSL's starting lineup to be dealt on Monday, after the club traded Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola to the New York Red Bulls, also for allocation money. With RSL being financially limited heading into the offseason, the series of moves gives the club far more salary-cap flexibility and leeway for player acquisitions and signings. With U.S. Under-20 international Luis Gil emerging as a starting option for RSL coach Jason Kreis, Johnson became a tradeable piece of the club's roster.
As for Portland, bringing in the 25-year-old Johnson in its fourth trade of the day nets a veteran midfielder for first-year coach Caleb Porter, who also parted ways with defenders Kosuke Kimura and Eric Brunner in separate deals and acquired Michael Harrington in another trade.
"Will is a proven player in MLS and has experience winning an MLS Cup championship," Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said in a team release. "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."
In six seasons in MLS, Johnson has 10 goals and eight assists, setting a career high with three goals and tying his career best with three assists in 2012. Originally signed by the Chicago Fire in 2005, Johnson spent a couple of years in the Dutch Eredivisie with Heerenveen and De Graafschap between 2006-08 before returning to the league with RSL, which acquired him from the Fire in 2008. Johnson, a 2009 MLS All-Star, was also part of Canada's World Cup qualifying team that recently missed out on reaching the CONCACAF hexagonal.
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