Johnson's blast wins MLS Goal of the Year


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SALT LAKE CITY (Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008) - Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson's flick and volley from the Utah side's regular season home finale on Oct. 18, which struck the inside of the near post behind the outstretched arms of FC Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala, received the most votes in online fan voting for the 2008 Sierra Mist Goal of the Year.

More than 500 goals were scored during the 2008 season, and according to the hundreds of thousands of fans who voted online at the League's website, Johnson's turning volley from just outside of the penalty area was the overwhelming favorite. The accolade marks the third-ever piece of MLS hardware bestowed upon a Real Salt Lake player, following Brian Kamler's Humanitarian of the Year honor in 2005 and Jeff Cunningham's placement on the MLS Best XI Team in 2006.

In a must-win game for Real Salt Lake at its new home of Rio Tinto Stadium, Chris Wingert started the play, centering the ball to Johnson at the top-right of the 18-yard box. Receiving the pass with his back to goal, Johnson concocted a skillful, unexpected shot for the game-winner in a 3-1 victory that was crucial to Real Salt Lake earning the first-ever playoff berth in club history.

Voting for the Sierra Mist Goal of the Year began with fans able to select from 35 regular season goals, including the 31 winners of the Sierra Mist Goal of the Week and four additional nominees - a pool that included Johnson's winning strike. Fan voting whittled that field down to five finalists. Joining Johnson in the final round of voting were Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Danny Cepero (New York), and last year's Sierra Mist Goal of the Year winner, Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Chicago Fire).

Johnson, 21, a Toronto, Canada native, began his professional soccer career in Major League Soccer with the Chicago Fire before transferring to Dutch side SC Heerenveen. Johnson returned stateside to Real Salt Lake this past August via a trade with the Chicago Fire and started in all nine games he was available for, scoring two goals while helping RSL advance to the Western Conference Championship game.

On the heels of Real Salt Lake's 2008 season, Johnson remains busy after earning a call-up to the Canadian National Team for its final contest in the semifinal round of CONCACAF Region World Cup Qualifying TONIGHT against Jamaica, which will feature Johnson's RSL teammate, MF Andy Williams (kickoff at 6:00 p.m. MT). After earning 30 caps for the Maple Leafs' U-20/U-19 teams and a spot on the CONCACAF Olympic (U-23) Qualifying All-Tournament Team this past spring, Johnson will be in search of his fifth "cap" for Canada's Senior team tonight at the National Stadium in Kingston.

On Sunday, MLS Cup 2008 will feature two clubs making their first appearance in the League's championship game. The Columbus Crew will play the New York Red Bulls at 1:30 p.m. MT (ABC, Telefutura and CBC) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

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