REAL SALT LAKE EXTENDS CONTRACT OF MIDFIELDER WILL JOHNSON
Revamped Deal Keeps Talented Midfielder in Claret-and-Cobalt through the 2014 MLS Campaign
SANDY, Utah (Wednesday, January 12, 2011) – Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey announced today that the club has extended the contract of midfielder Will Johnson, the deal keeping the Canadian international in an RSL uniform through the 2014 MLS campaign. Per club policy, financial terms of the contract will not be disclosed.
"Reaching a long-term agreement with Will Johnson is yet another milestone in the significant steps our organization has taken to keep our core group together as we compete in CONCACAF Champions League and pursue another MLS Cup title," said Lagerwey. “Will has been one of several critical figures in establishing RSL's competitive culture, and we look forward to seeing him in Claret & Cobalt for the longer term."
By agreeing to terms, Real Salt Lake ensures the services of the 23-year-old midfielder through the prime years of his burgeoning professional career. Johnson, whose name has become synonymous in MLS circles with a tireless engine and work ethic, has appeared in 63 regular season games (59 starts) since joining the club in August 2008, tallying four goals and four assists from the left- and right-sided positions in RSL’s diamond midfield formation. One of those strikes – a screaming volley from 25 yards into the upper right corner of goal against FC Dallas on Oct. 18, 2008 – would earn Johnson the 2008 MLS Goal of the Year honor after several rounds of fan balloting.
“I think I have a lot of good soccer years ahead of me, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be spending the next four of them with Real Salt Lake,” said Johnson. “I’ve found a home here in Salt Lake and a club with an atmosphere that I believe is a winning one. I have a lot in common with Jason [Kreis] and Garth [Lagerwey] in regards to what it takes to win, and obviously that’s my goal. I want to help take this club forward and spend the best years of my career here with Real Salt Lake.”
In addition to his regular season exploits, Johnson has taken the field in all nine of the Utah side’s MLS Cup Playoff performances (eight starts) across the last three seasons, including a gutsy 45-minute start in RSL’s MLS Cup 2009 victory over the L.A. Galaxy while suffering from the effects of severe food poisoning. The young midfielder also knocked in three goals en route to becoming the only RSL player to start all six Group Stage contests in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League last fall. His two-goal performance at Panamanian champion Arabe Unido on Sept. 22 helped RSL achieve a vital 3-2 away victory, the three points helping the Utah side to become the first MLS team in nine tries to finish atop its group in the regional club championship.
After serving as a stalwart for Canada’s Youth National Teams, Johnson has already seen a fair amount of time with the full Canadian squad, making 13 “caps” at the Senior level since his debut in November 2005 at the age of 18. Johnson continued to fit into Canada’s plans in 2010, as he appeared in three friendlies for the Maple Leafs, including a 90-minute performance last May against Argentina at the famed Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti in Buenos Aires. While he represents Canada, Johnson holds tri-citizenship (Canada, United States & England), having been born in Toronto to English parents while being raised in suburban Chicago since the age of 10.
Johnson began his soccer career by training in the youth system of English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers FC before officially jumping to the professional ranks in 2005, when he made six appearances for the Chicago Fire as an 18-year-old. Johnson followed his Chicago stint with two seasons in the Netherlands, making 14 appearances for Dutch Eredivisie (first division) side SC Heerenveen (one goal) in 2006/07 before being loaned the following season to another top-flight outfit, De Graafschap, for whom he made 39 appearances (three goals).
The contract extension for Johnson marks the latest move in a successful offseason for the Real Salt Lake Technical Staff, which has either re-signed or traded for the attacking trio of Costa Rican international and 2010 MLS Newcomer of the Year Álvaro Saborío, El Salvadoran international and MLS veteran Arturo Alvarez, and exciting Brazilian striker Paulo Jr. since the end of the 2010 campaign. Real Salt Lake will continue building its roster tomorrow, Thursday, January 13, at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, being held in Baltimore in conjunction with the annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention. ESPN2 will televise the SuperDraft’s first round from Baltimore beginning at 10:00 a.m. MT, while MLSsoccer.com will continue the coverage with a live streaming video feed of the second- and third-round proceedings.
Fans can secure their seats now for both Real Salt Lake’s March 1 CONCACAF Quarterfinal Leg Two fixture against the Columbus Crew and its March 26 MLS home opener against the Los Angeles Galaxy via the “RSL 2011 2-Pack” (beginning at just $80) and the “RSL 2011 Flex 10-Pack” (beginning at $200). Both of these special ticket offers, in addition to RSL 2011 Season Ticket Packages, can be purchased online at www.RealSaltLake.com, over the phone at 801-727-2700, or in person at Rio Tinto Stadium during regular business hours: 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. MT.
TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake extends contract of midfielder Will Johnson through the end of the 2014 MLS season.