Will Johnson, a new leader in Portland
The Portland Timbers have made a lot of changes on the field following a difficult season in 2012, including bringing in a DP in Diego Valeri and a big trade with Toronto FC for forward Ryan Johnson, but one that received a little less fanfare may be the most important in the locker room: Will Johnson.
GOAL: Johnson sets it up for Valeri
“Will has been with the Canadian national team for a long time, so I got to see him progress,” said Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier, who often shared the midfield with Johnson in international competition with Canada. “He’s good on the ball, goes up and down and is an extremely hard worker.”
The Canadian international was acquired from Real Salt Lake on December 3, 2012, following five seasons and 114 games played in Utah, and he was named team captain under new Timbers’ bench boss Caleb Porter.
“He’s a guy that gives 100% all the time and you see that on the pitch,” added Bernier. “They brought him in because they know that he sets the tone. Training, games… I think that’s why their coach named him captain. He always brings that competitive edge.”
The Timbers relied on him and his leadership to come from behind 3-1 and earn a point against the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Johnson had over 60 successful passes in his 90 minutes, including over 10 defensives stops, all while adding an assist on his team’s first goal.
This Saturday, the Impact hopes to stop Johnson as it visits the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field at 10:30pm ET (TVA Sports, 98,5FM).