Get the players first, worry about the cap later. That seems to be the mentality of Toronto FC management as they have acquired Will Johnson despite their even-increasing payroll.
The Canadian international was acquired for a conditional second round pick in the 2017 MLS Superdraft and targeted allocation money. The amount of money noe the condition related to the draft pick, is known at the time of publishing, and was not released as per club policy.
"I'm excited to return to my hometown of Toronto and play in front of one of the best fan bases in MLS," Will Johnson said in a club press release. "I look forward to this new challenge and cannot wait to meet my new teammates."
Johnson becomes the third experienced MLS player that Toronto FC has acquired this week after Drew Moor's signing, and the confirmation of a trade for Steven Beitashour earlier this morning. The club are still expected to add a goalkeeper before next season after they declined contract options on both Joe Bendik and Chris Konopka.
Combined, Toronto's three new signings could make close to $900,000, with Johnson still having one more year on his deal with the Portland Timbers worth $334,333.33. Add that to the raise that Justin Morrow undoubtedly received plus their already expensive roster and Toronto FC are going to have difficulty fitting under the league's $3.49 million salary cap.
That, however, is a problem for another day, specifically March 1 when Toronto FC need to be cap compliant to field a roster. Until then, they have time to figure out how to get their roster under that amount.
Toronto were not the only club interested in Johnson, as the Chicago Fire also pushed to acquire the Canadian international with several other clubs being involved as well. Toronto was Johnson's first choice, however, and Portland Timbers management took that into consideration.
Club captain Michael Bradley, who is a longtime friend of Johnson's, is reported to have played a role in convincing him to join the club. Johnson says they spoke frequently leading up to today's trade.
Like the club's earlier signings, Johnson brings plenty of MLS experience to the table. A winner of two MLS Cups, including this past seasons with the Timbers, Johnson has played in 189 Major League Soccer games. In that time he has scored 25 goals and added 15 assists.
More importantly, Johnson has plenty of playoff experience, a trend among recent Toronto FC acquisitions. He has played in 19 playoff matches scoring 2 goals and adding an assist with the Timbers, Real Salt Lake and Chicago Fire.
For the Canadian men's national team, Johnson has been capped 38 times scoring 4 goals. He was also crucial to Canada's recent World Cup qualifying 1-0 win over Honduras, in which his header went off the backside of Canadian striker Cyle Larin and into the net.
All in all, this continues what has been a busy start to the offseason for Toronto FC, but one that has seen them get significantly more experienced and deep in the positions they needed it most.