Johnson scored 14 goals and added 4 assists for the Aztex in 2010, and was a big factor in the team’s remarkable turnaround. The Aztex had the league’s best record throughout 2010 until the very end of the season, when a slump allowed the surging Rochester Rhinos to finish one point ahead of the Aztex for USSF D2 regular season champions. The Aztex were eliminated in the post season by the Montreal Impact, although Johnson added a goal in the 2nd leg playoff game with Montreal.
Johnson, 26, signed his first professional contract with Manchester United. He made no appearances with the Manchester United senior team, but was loaned out to Belgian side Royal Antwerp and English sides Coventry City and Crewe Alexandra while under contract with the Manchester giants. He also played with Bradford City and Chester City before signing with Coach Adrian Heath’s Aztex side in 2009. Johnson was an USL-1 All-League selection his first year before establishing himself as an elite player in 2010 for Austin.
Pore, Cronin and Dike led the Timbers to a undefeated 10 game streak at the end of the season as the team finished with a 13-7-10 record under Coach Gavin Wilkinson. Wilkinson is now the Timbers’ technical director, as former Houston Dynamo assistant John Spencer will take over the 2011 coaching duties in Portland. Pore, 27, led USSF D2 with 15 goals from his midfield position and has MLS experience with the Kansas City Wizards, playing in 58 MLS games before joining Portland in 2009. Steve Cronin had a fine season with the Timbers, allowing 0.79 goals per game (third best in USSF D2) while recording 12 clean sheets in 2010. He played 28 games for the LA Galaxy before also joining the Timbers in 2009. Dike, a rookie from Notre Dame, came on strong as the season progressed and scored 10 goals for the Timbers, good for fourth best in USSF D2. Dike also scored four goals in US Open Cup action, including one against the Timbers’ hated rivals, the Seattle Sounders.
Although D2 fans will miss seeing these talented players, I’m happy for all of them to get the chance to shine on North America’s biggest soccer stage, the MLS. I imagine Soccer City USA fans are delighted with these signings, and the future of soccer in the Rose City looks fine.