SANDY — Real Salt Lake has found its No. 9.
The Sandy-based soccer club announced Monday the acquisition of Liberian forward Sam Johnson as the newest designated player.
Johnson, who hails from Monrovia, comes to Major League Soccer after finishing last season as the top scorer at Valerenga in Norway.
He’ll join RSL for training camp upon the receipt of his international transfer certificate and P1 visa.
“I’m ready for a new challenge in MLS,” Johnson told Real Salt Lake in a statement from the club. “A lot of clubs came for me, but Real Salt Lake put more effort than the other clubs. I spoke with my advisor, I spoke with mom and some people who follow MLS closely and it was an easy decision for me.
“I feel like I can showcase myself in one fo the biggest leagues in the world. I’m excited to be here and I look forward to playing for the fans in Salt Lake City.”
Per club policy, terms of the deal were not immediately made available. But Johnson fills the DP and international slot left vacant by last year’s departure of Spanish striker Alfredo Ortuno, who held a million-dollar contract, according to figures released by the MLS Players’ Union.
Johnson, 25, scored 11 goals in 21 appearances last year for Valerenga, and also featured 11 times with the Liberian national team with two goals. In addition to Valerenga, he also has experience with Sweden’s Assyriska IF, Sweden’s IK Frej and Djurgardens in the country’s top division. He then spent two seasons in China with Wuhan, scoring 17 goals in just under two seasons, before returning to Europe and Valerenga in 2017.
“I am happy to welcome Sam to the RSL family,” coach Mike Petke said in a statement. “It will be good to get him integrated with the players and staff, and up to speed on how we play.
“The addition of Sam will provide us with a strong option up front and will certainly create further competition on an already deep roster.”
Johnson will join RSL's forward corps that includes a host of wingers, including Ecuadorian international Joao Plata, Venezuelan Jefferson Savarino, and current U.S. international Corey Baird, among others.