Orlando City has officially announced the signing of Will Johnson, which has been rumored since last Wednesday, as first reported by Alicia DelGallo of the Orlando Sentinel. Johnson signed a two-year deal with an option for a third season. Johnson, 29, is a two-time MLS Cup winner, including once under Jason Kreis with Real Salt Lake in 2009. He also helped Toronto FC reach its first MLS Cup final this past season.
“We are thrilled to add Will to the team,” said General Manager Niki Budalic in a club press release. “He is a proven and accomplished MLS player that knows the league and [Head Coach Jason Kreis’] system very well from their time at Real Salt Lake. We are confident he will help the club achieve its goals moving forward.”
Johnson spent the 2016 season with Toronto, making 29 appearances and scoring two goals to go along with six assists. The Reds fell just short to the Seattle Sounders in this year’s championship, bowing out on penalty kicks. It would have been Johnson’s third MLS Cup title with three different teams. He also won the Cup with Portland in 2015.
Over 10 years in MLS, Johnson has made 212 appearances (193 starts), scoring 27 goals with 20 assists. His best statistical year was 2013 with Portland, when he scored nine goals with five assists in 28 games (all starts).
Prior to joining Toronto for 2016, Johnson spent three years with the Portland Timbers, five years with Real Salt Lake, and one season with the Chicago Fire. He brings a combined total of 237 league matches, and nine trips to the postseason in his 10 MLS seasons. Johnson also played in the Netherlands for SC Heerenveen and De Grassfschap, both in the Dutch Eredivisie with 53 total appearances over two seasons.
The Toronto native was named to the 2009 MLS All-Star game and was voted to the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Fan XI vs. AS Roma at Sporting Park. He was also named to the 2013 MLS Best XI. In addition, Johnson scored the MLS Goal of the Year in 2008.
Internationally, Johnson has 41 caps for the Canadian national team. He has scored four goals, played in two FIFA tournaments, captained the Canadian team in 2013, and won Canadian Men’s Player of the Year in 2013. However, despite his time playing with the Canadian national team, he will not take up an international slot, as he has triple citizenship from Canada, the United States, and England.
Johnson’s familiarity with Jason Kreis’ system and the demands he makes of his players will be a valuable asset for Orlando City. The Canadian can act as an extra coach on the field, knowing where everyone should be at all times.