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2017 Orlando City Season in Review: Will Johnson

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Plenty of ups and downs for the veteran midfielder in his first season in Orlando.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Dec. 28, 2016, Orlando City signed two-time MLS Cup winner, Will Johnson. Johnson played for Jason Kreis at Real Salt Lake when they won the Cup and was with the Portland Timbers for their championship in 2015. Johnson made an immediate impact for Orlando City, bringing experience, versatility, and leadership to the Lions defense.

Johnson became the captain during Kaká’s injury, and would assume that role whenever Kaká subbed off. It all seemed over when Johnson was arrested on a domestic violence charge on Sept. 6. However, on Oct. 13, Johnson was cleared to return to the team when prosecutors chose not to pursue charges. Johnson’s return was too late to help the Lions’ playoff hopes.

Statistical Breakdown

Johnson played in 26 games, starting in 23 of them, and accumulated 2,057 minutes for Orlando City this season. On defense, the Canadian international had 50 tackles, 40 interceptions, 51 clearances, averaged two clearances, 1.5 interceptions, and 1.9 tackles per game, winning 22 of 33 aerials.

On offense, he attempted 32 shots, putting 13 on goal, and scored two goals — one of which was a game winner against his former team, Real Salt Lake, on June 30. He also assisted on three goals and completed 83.5% of his passes, averaging one key pass per match.

After his return from suspension, Johnson didn’t have much time to get back into the swing of things, picking up a suspension for yellow card accumulation and missing the final match of the season.

Best Game

On April 15, Orlando City became the first MLS team to open a new stadium with a 4-0 record. Johnson was the captain during that match, and he scored one of the best goals of the season. It was a play that highlighted all the best attributes of Johnson’s game. After a cleared corner by L.A., Scott Sutter punted the ball back towards the goal, and found Johnson, who had worked to get back onside as everybody else was headed the other way. Taking the ball into the box, he perfectly put it in the upper right corner to give the Lions the lead in the ninth minute.

Johnson also picked up the assist on Cyle Larin’s game winner in stoppage time, delivering great service on a corner kick. For his efforts, Johnson was our Man of the Match.

Final 2017 Grade

The Mane Land staff graded Spector at a 6 for the season. Prior to his suspension, Johnson was one of Orlando City’s most consistent players. His leadership during the Kaká’s injury helped the Lions get off to their best start in MLS. Orlando City missed his tenacity during his suspension, which also contributed to the downturn that the Lions experienced. Johnson has the ability to play multiple positions, works hard on and off the ball, provides on-field leadership, and makes those around him better.

2018 Outlook

Despite the possibility that Johnson wouldn’t even return at the end of last season, he is back and it looks like he’ll be back next season. Look for Johnson to want to prove his worth on the field. It’s entirely possible that Johnson will also be Orlando City’s captain when the season begins. Having Johnson on the field and in his natural midfield position will be a key part of the Lions’ chances at making the playoffs.


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