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Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 7 - Ryan Johnson

It looked like he was going to play every minute of every game, but he was eventually allowed to rest. Scored some great goals, took a lot of punishment and just kept on coming. If only he was a more consistent scorer. At number 7, it's Ryan Johnson.

Angry Ryan, frightened Clyde
Angry Ryan, frightened Clyde
Winslow Townson

Average Ranking: 6.00
Highest Ranking: 1
Lowest Ranking: 10

Duncan: 2 It was a mixed year for Ryan Johnson, many of the voter comments refer to him being inconsistent and that's true. He definitely had a slump, a long time where he seemed like he'd completely lost his scoring touch, and I think his low ranking is a reflection of people's memories of that time, but that shouldn't take away from his brighter finish to the season, and the start where he was absolutely on fire.

Going into pre-season, I had doubts about where exactly he'd find a starting job, but the way he played in pre season, lively, sharp, lethal almost, convinced me we had to find a place for him somewhere. Fortunately Aron Winter did, on the left wing and he carried that form into the CCL games, scoring the opener at the dome, following it up with the spinning kick of the corner flag that just a few games later it seemed impossible he'd have the athleticism to pull off. He scored again in the 2nd leg with an outrageous leap for the header, posterising Tommy Meyer in the process, before setting up Nick Soolsma for the 2nd.

He kept going with what I consider TFC's goal of the season, against Seattle, but that game's when it all started to go wrong. Seattle, especially Osvaldo Alonso, kicked the shit out of him with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller chuckling along in the commentary booth. He continued taking punishment, especially when he played at centre forward instead of Danny Koevermans. Add in TFC's busy early season schedule, where he played every minute of every game, and soon he looked tired and beaten up. He was still out there giving it his all, but the edge, the verve he had when at full fitness was lost and that showed in his shooting as the goals dried up. This article here from Sounder at Heart suggested that this was a return to his historical norms.

Things got worse for Ryan, as tactically, Aron Winter abandoned him in a desperate attempt to shore up the defence by parking the bus, often leaving him isolated and outnumbered, leading to this alarmingly heartbreaking interview.

Things did improve from there. He scored a scrappy goal against Montreal in the V-Cup, and a beautifully patient and skillful one against them in the league, as well as a few others, this one against Chicago I'm fairly certain he slipped, totally fooled the goalie but this wasn't intentional, and played his part in getting Jamaica through to the hex. It wasn't until the home game against Aguila that he finally was rested, though international absence and suspension aside, he played every available minute in the league until the last game where he was subbed off injured. It was only late in the season that he seemed to really get his groove back, scoring with a lovely calm finish against SKC, and another magnificent goal against New York, and having a great game at home against DC where he was absolutely determined to score, let down only by the lack of finish from his teammates.

Will he be back next year? It's difficult to say, but I'd guess at no, his season ending interview displayed no great enthusiasm for the thought, and Paul Mariner doesn't include him in his 7 MLS level starters, I guess we'll see what Kevin Payne thinks of him. Personally I'd keep him, he's a ridiculously hard working player who can cover a few positions, and let's face it, we'll need reliable cover for Hassli and Koevermans. In the end though, I think his eventual role will be as the best trade bait we can offer to other MLS teams for more pressing needs.

Dave: 3 Johnson was the iron man for Toronto this season and it was needed when you consider the injury status of the other big ticket forwards on the club. With Hassli and Koevermans spending so much time injured it was Johnson who led the line more often than not. His lack of finishing and wild shooting were often frustrating for fans this year but without his impact on the team things could have been even worse.

John: 8 Still can't hit the side of a barn but damn, at least he tries.

Michael: 1 Comes to play most nights, very consistent

Kristin: 8 Run Ryan Run! Top 10 for effort and early form. Almost always the hardest worker on the field, just no touch.

The Yorkies: More mercurial than a thermometer. Will impress then infuriate on another MLS club in 2013.

The Ghost Of TFC Future: Memories of Chad Barrett. Barrett was so frustrating because he'd get himself into excellent scoring positions, but would almost always find a way to miss. Johnson is even more frustrating because we need those goals even more now than we did then. Still, he does score some goals, which are always a commodity for us.

Jon Spratt: Although his strike rate could be better and he's a streaky scorer, his durability was essential for TFC this year.

Casual Soccer Fan: Chad Barrett 2.0.

DichioTFC: The second-highest ranked TFC player on the Castrol Rankings, second-highest in team minutes and a standout for an exciting Jamaican National Team, RJ9 is one of the league's best strikers hands down. His vision, pace, pitch awareness and his jumping / heading attributes are qualities that the rest of the league lacks. He formed an encouraging partnership with Danny Koevermans, tied for the team lead on assists with Ashtone Morgan and Luis Silva.

Johnson is not without his failures, as only 23 of his 67 shots were on target - a troubling figure for an MLS-caliber starting ST. Also troubling is his committment to the club, as he appeared to question Paul Mariner's leadership - his close friendship with out of favour Eric Avila is a telling sign - and was not willing to indicate if he will return to the club for 2013. After starting 31 MLS games for this team in a dreadful season, it's tough to blame Johnson for being upset that his talent is going to waste for a bottom-feeding club. It will take some persuading for Mariner to encourage RJ9 to re-sign with TFC for the upcoming season. A raise from his $137K cap hit may be in order, but, in my opinion, it would be one that is well worth the money. Johnson will be fired up to lead Jamaica out of the Hex in 2013 and TFC could definitely use a player with extra motivation.

Shem: Works his ass of everytime.

Prizby: If I could be anyone on this team, Ryan Johnson might be the guy. He isn’t overly flashy, he drifts in and out of games, but he scores some super human goals and he is the ultimate ironman. He missed his first league minutes against Chicago when he was away on international duty and missed his second game due to yellow card suspension. Other than that, he was on the field for almost every single league minute minus the last 30 at Columbus on the final day. He could always be counted on to put his shift in.

MCB: No one tries harder.

Sir Alphonso Applegate: Scored some great goals but was too inconsistent to be a star for me. Johnson will likely be traded in the winter as he has more in league potential than almost any other asset we have.

Ignirtoq: If he's a midfielder, he's terrible. If he's a forward, he's barely adequate.

Shel Soze: Great player missing the natural gift of a goal scorer.

JC_Plante: Tailed off at the end. Played every minute early on, even though he was gassed by the 70th. Second in goals.

Panos Kelamis: With proper shooting boots, Johnson could score 12+ goals

Number 6: Ashtone Morgan

Number 8: Milos Kocic

Full Top 31 Countdown