The Toronto FC Top 40 Countdown continues, and today we have a math question. What does 30 + 27 + 12 equal? Ryan Johnson, number 8.
Average Ranking: 7.682
Highest ranking: 4
Lowest Ranking: 11
Duncan: 7. Ryan Johnson arrived at Toronto FC in July in what was a bit of a blockbuster, so good he cost us three players, Alan Gordon, Nana Attakora and Jacob Peterson. This would turn out to be a very successful example of the reclamation project kind of trade that Aron Winter and Paul Mariner tried a few times in 2011.
Johnson had done very well previously at San Jose, he was their leading goalscorer and MVP in 2009, with 11 goals. The goals dried up in 2010 but he led the team in assists with 8, but in 2011 the assists dried up as well and after that happened, San Jose fans seemed quite happy with the trade. He scored a couple of goals for Jamaica at the Gold Cup, but giving up three players in the hope that Johnson would be able to recapture his best form was a huge gamble, but so far, it's one that paid off in spades.
While Danny Koevermans was the big goalscoring threat in the second half of the season, Johnson was a huge part of what was the biggest improvement from the first half of the season; spread out, secondary scoring. He scored 3 goals in the league, all away from home, and added three more in the CCL, again away from home, two crucial ones against Real Esteli, including this fantastic volley, and the opener at Tauro FC. The scoring threat helped create space for Koevermans and others, and Johnson also helped set up his share of goals, most impressively Joao Plata's first goal against Dallas, the patience he showed to hold onto the ball, draw defenders to him, then slip the ball across to Plata was really admirable.
Another big thing that Johnson brought to the team was his versatility. Whether it was playing Centre Forward when Koevermans was injured or resting, playing the Attacking Midfield spot when Eric Avila was cup tied in the CCL, or playing Left Wing instead of Joao Plata, he enabled the team to not miss a beat. The one forward position he didn't really work out at was Right Wing, which is a shame as that's the one position in the front 4 where there's currently an obvious opening in the first team.
That brings us to what could be a bit of a problem next year, where will Johnson play? Though it's good for TFC to have positive selection problems, it won't be ideal for Johnson who could see himself relegated to the bench as a 'jack of all trades, master of none' all purpose forward substitute. Is Johnson better than Koevermans at Centre Forward? No. Is he better than Plata at Left Wing? No. Is he better than Avila at Attacking Midfield? No. So where exactly will he find a place? Unfortunately for him, unless Plata either doesn't return in 2012, or can move to right wing to let him play on the left, his place will be on the bench.
Hopefully he can adapt and continue being a dangerous player from the bench or as a sporadic starter. If he can play as well as he did this year, that will go a long way to making next year a success, and validating that 3 for 1 gamble. I'm not entirely convinced he can keep this form up, but for this season at least he was a very pleasant surprise and well worth his 8th place here.
Dave: 6. His season was a quiet but effective one. The highlight for me was probably the fact that he scored a pair of goals in the second leg against Real Esteli and how strong his showing was in the FC Dallas win. His stats are not all the impressive with 3 goals and 2 assists in the MLS this season but his composure and creative playmaking are impossible to qualify with numbers like that. He showed flashes this season of why he was the best player for San Jose only a few years ago and despite having a down year he still has the ability to be an impact player in the MLS.
Keaton: 5. Johnson has developed a great little thing with Koef and Plata. Give these 3 a full preseason and I could see them being one of the top attacking forces in the MLS. Johnson fits in to Winter's system perfectly. Great player, and wicked MLS striker.
Peter Meraw: Perfect complement to Koevermans and Plata up front in a 4-3-3. Like a hybrid of the other two. Koevermans size and strength, with Plata's speed
Kristin: Potential to be a serious threat. Ability to feed the ball into the middle & fake out defenders
Michelle: I like what he does, when he does it. I thought he was a little hot/cold but I'm optimistic.
James: Great addition even if he cost three players, his guile in the CCL will prove extremely valuable, good work rate & skills, solid finisher.
JC_Plante: Timely goals and a solid effort. May be the winger we've looked for
Macs_Daddy: Worth everything that he was traded for
Jimmy Stone: Scored some important goals and works hard. Still feel Johnson isn't adequate cover for Koevermans
Canadian Texan: Better than I expected
Devon Taylor: Provides service for Koev and Plata, and creates some good chances for himself. An excellent finale to TFC's three-pronged attack.
Blindfolded Tank Driver: Johnson was an excellent pickup mid year by Winter. Calm, with good vision, on the ball and off it.