RSL trades MF Will Johnson to Portland for allocation money

SANDY, Utah Real Salt Lake has traded veteran MF Will Johnson to Portland Timbers FC in exchange for allocation money. Per league and club policy, the amount of allocation money exchanged will not be disclosed. 

The trade comes hours after Real Salt Lake sent FW Fabian Espindola and DF Jamison Olave to New York in exchange for allocation money. Salary cap constraints were the main motivator for both moves.

Johnson, 25, spent the better part of five seasons with RSL, arriving at the club on Aug. 22, 2008. The Canadian international appeared in 114 regular season games – starting 104 – for the Claret-and-Cobalt, scoring 10 goals and notching eight assists in MLS play for the Utah side. Johnson also was voted the 2008 MLS Goal of the Year winner.

“We thank Will for his five incredible years of service to Real Salt Lake,” RSL GM Garth Lagerwey said. “He was a big part of RSL’s foundation, playing a major role in our 2009 MLS Cup Championship, our run to the 2010/11 CCL Final and our five-straight postseason appearances.”

Johnson was a key part of the RSL core during his time in Salt Lake. Known for his strong work rate on both sides of the ball, Johnson is eighth in RSL history in games played, games started and minutes played (9,445) as well as sixth all-time in shots on goal (77).

Along with being the only player in club history to feature in all 16 of RSL’s CONCACAF Champions League matches from 2010-12, Johnson is one of just three players to participate in all 14 of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s MLS Cup Playoff games. He is third all-time in RSL history in postseason minutes played (1,187), trailing only GK Nick Rimando and MF Kyle Beckerman (1,320 each).

Johnson was a part of RSL squads that won MLS Cup 2009, advanced to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final and qualified for an active league-high five-consecutive MLS Cup Playoff appearances from 2008-12. 

“Will’s arrival in the summer of 2008 was one of the major tipping points in our club’s history,” Lagerwey said. “RSL truly would not be where it is without Will. We can’t thank him enough for helping us establish not only a good team, but also a winning culture. We wish him all the best in Portland.”


Player: Will Johnson

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 160 lbs.

Date of Birth: Jan. 21, 1987

Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Citizenship: Canada

How acquired: Signed with MLS on Aug. 15, 2008; Rights acquired in trade with Chicago Fire on Aug. 22, 2008.

How departed: Traded to Portland Timbers FC in exchange for allocation money on Dec. 3, 2012.