As Toronto FC was on their way to defeating Panamanian side Tauro FC in a CONCACAF Champions League match last night, this interesting tidbit flashed down my twitter scroll:
At first, I wasn’t sure whether to take that to mean that Ryan Johnson was a the scoring savior that TFC desperately wanted when they agreed with the San Jose Earthquakes to trade away three of their own players, or that Toronto has had a rather forgettable history in the CCL. Now, the sample size is very small — just three CCL appearances for Johnson for the Reds — so statistically this really means nothing, but the ex-Quakes striker once was a regular goal scorer in MLS. That you have to go back to the 2009 season to see him on display is unusual, but Johnson’s scoring touch has seen him net a career total of 18 goals in just under six seasons.
When Johnson was sent packing for Canada by the Earthquakes, he had tallied just a single goal for the team since that MVP-level 2009 campaign. Fan support had dwindled for the Jamaican international, and his performances were frustratingly inconsistent. Johnson appeared to need that most cliché in sports move — a change in scenery.
Since arriving in Toronto, Johnson has added another goal in league play to give him 4 total in seven appearances in all competitions — talk about fitting in to your new surroundings. He could be said to be benefitting from head coach Aron Winter’s focus on possession and offense — Total Football — but the fact is that Johnson’s goals have been more a product of his hustle than his talent. His score last night against Tauro FC was another example of the pressure he is capable of putting on opposing defenses, but something he often lacked doing with the Earthquakes.
A month after the trade and TFC seems to have the upper hand on the exchange. The three players that the Earthquakes received in exchange for the Jamaican were pressed into action early, but are shelved with injury or rooted on the bench today. Unfortunate timing on the part of general manager John Doyle and head coach Frank Yallop to trade the underperforming forward right before he goes on a scoring binge, or a case of Johnson never really giving his all for the Quakes on a consistent basis? Time will tell if jettisoning Johnson was the right choice for the Earthquakes.