MLS

Toronto FC loses Johnson via free agency, Williams in re-entry draft

Toronto FC lost two players Thursday, with free-agent midfielder Will Johnson headed to Orlando and defender Josh Williams taken by Columbus in Stage 2 of the MLS re-entry draft.

Will Johnson to join Orlando; Josh Williams selected by Columbus

Midfielder Will Johnson has bolted to Orlando City SC as a free agent. The 29-year-old Canadian international joined Toronto FC last December in a trade with Portland for a 2017 conditional second-round draft pick. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Toronto FC lost two players Thursday, with free-agent midfielder Will Johnson headed to Orlando and defender Josh Williams taken by Columbus in Stage 2 of the MLS re-entry draft.

A source confirmed Johnson's departure to Orlando with the deal announcement pending.

The 29-year-old Canadian international, whose lone season in Toronto was interrupted by a knee injury, started 19 games for the Reds and appeared in four others. A childhood friend of Toronto captain Michael Bradley, Johnson offered experience and some bite in midfield.

The move to Orlando reunites Johnson with coach Jason Kreis, who was in charge of Real Salt Lake during Johnson's time there. Orlando is also home to Canadian striker Cyle Larin.

The 28-year-old Williams appeared in 15 games this season with 11 starts but found himself behind Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta and Nick Hagglund when coach Greg Vanney switched to a three-man backline late in the season.

The two players' departure frees up money under the salary cap. Johnson made US$395,333 last season while Williams earned US$131,500, according to the MLS Players Union.

Re-entry draft

Unlike Johnson, the out-of-contract Williams was eligible for the re-entry draft.

Houston, San Jose and Sporting Kansas City joined Columbus in making selections. After the Chicago Fire passed with the first overall pick, Houston took former Los Angeles Galaxy centre back Leonardo. Crew SC then selected Williams, who made 76 appearances for Columbus from 2010 to '14, and San Jose used the fourth pick to pick former Real Salt Lake forward Olmes Garcia.

Sporting Kansas City, with the 12th overall selection, took goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra from D.C. United.

Johnson came to Toronto last December in a trade with Portland that sent a conditional second-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and targeted allocation money to the Timbers.

The 10-year MLS veteran, who previously played for Real Salt Lake and Chicago, had two goals and five assists this season for Toronto.

Johnson has 27 career goals and 20 assists in 212 regular-season MLS games.

Players chosen in Stage 1 of the re-entry draft automatically had their MLS contracts picked up by the drafting clubs. Clubs taking players in Stage 2 can negotiate new deals.

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